There is no acknowledgement of the real problems in the healthcare system. Here's a big example: how many people know that current Medicare taxes aren't covering current Medicare expenses? I heard this mentioned in passing this week, and it was news to me. If we can't even cover our current Medicare expenses, why isn't that information all over the news? It should be a common point when talking about spending, similar to how everyone mentions the yearly deficit and the national debt now being $17 trillion.
Yet it's not mentioned frequently. The fact is that general revenues are paying for more than 45% of our Medicare costs, meaning that other programs are squeezed. And the BABY BOOMERS HAVEN'T EVEN STARTED GETTING OLD YET.
When are we going to start reining in Medicare? I'd cynically say probably not while we have elections and seniors turn out in high numbers, but I don't think we can wait that long. We need some method to force people and doctors to stop this gorging. We've got to start saying "no," but that means saying "no" when life and health are on the line. I don't know if we can do that. We may believe that we have to spend on our healthcare, no matter how much.
Will it be possible to cut back? If so, how? The easiest way is to cut what's ineffective. That means gathering the statistics, and then convincing or forcing doctors not to order the ineffective treatments. We'll probably need to cut barely effective treatments too. I've read of cancer patients being referred for a fourth round of treatment that's known to extend life for only three months. What is the cost? Would you decrease your own bank account $100K per month to extend your life? If not, then you probably shouldn't decrease the country's resources either.
This also means giving comfort care and end-of-life treatment to frail elders instead of hospital care and expensive ICU treatment. Perhaps we shouldn't be trying to save extremely premature babies and people with very severe head trauma. Yes, we will have all these life-saving and life-extended technology that we will purposefully not use because it costs too much.
As I said above, I don't know if we can do that, just let it alone and not jump in with all that. Our track record isn't good.
What started this rant? The idea that Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon religious black conservative darling can save us. That and finding out that the Medicare payroll tax isn't covering even 55% of our Medicare spending.
Extra. Healthcare costs are growing faster again after a five-year slowdown.