The Medicare Advocacy Center has published this concise rundown on Medicare, which is well worth keeping in mind amidst all the ads and counter-ads swirling around us:
Forty four years ago Medicare was enacted into law. All of today’s dire warnings about a public health option – socialism and government barring the doctor’s door – were made in opposition to Medicare. Despite such opposition from “conservative,” leaders, Medicare passed because of some courageous, principled law-makers.
Before Medicare, 50% of everyone 65 or older had NO health insurance. Now, as a result of Medicare, almost all older people are insured. Medicare, which is national, government-run health insurance, succeeded in insuring older people where private insurance failed. Further, until the Bush Administration privatized Medicare with huge subsidies to private “Medicare Advantage” and Part D plans, Medicare was also remarkably cost-effective. It’s private Medicare, not the traditional, public program, that’s bleeding taxpayers of billions of dollars.
Medicare has been a success, fiscally and morally. It took on the job of insuring health coverage and care to people that private insurance had abandoned. Since 2003, on the other hand, private Medicare plans have cost us all tens of billions of dollars that went to support the private insurance industry, not to providing health care. In addition, private Medicare plans have too often engaged in marketing abuses and restrictive coverage practices.
As numerous studies have shown, people with Medicare love it. They do not want government to fool around with the traditional program. Ironically, some people with Medicare are arguing against a public health care reform option–while also telling the government “to keep its hands-off their Medicare!” They, and their family members, (which accounts for pretty much all of us), forget that the traditional Medicare program is a public health insurance option.
Meet Medicare: Our 44 year-old public health insurance option that provides care to all its enrollees everywhere in the country, and that has provided health and economic security for millions of older people, people with disabilities, and their families. For two generations, the public Medicare program has shown what a true public insurance program can offer: health insurance for the otherwise uninsured, at a price that taxpayers can afford.
Now, for all generations, we need a public option in health reform!