Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Real Cost of Health Care

by Dick McDonald

The cost of keeping me alive for the last ten years has been astronomical. And who has been paying for it - the taxpayers of the United States. I am on Medicare and have run up probably $1 million in hospital and doctor charges of which Medicare paid $300,000 and the healthcare industry ate $700,000. Due to careful planning, I didn’t pay Medicare taxes most of my life. My contribution to the program was negligible.

The bill for my recent Gall Bladder surgery is a window into why (1) insurers make so little profit from covering health, (2) the entire medical industry is dysfunctional financially and (3) the problem is government’s intrusion into the health care industry.

Total charges                                                      $86,999.31

Amount paid by Medicare                                                             13,128.08)

Your Medicare discount                                                             (73,621.23)

Amount you paid                                                                             0.00

Total Amount You Owe                                          $   250.00

This was the charge for a three-day stay. I didn’t get the bill for my 7-way heart bypass surgery in 2002 but I assume it was a dozy too – my share was $200 for that one. I have Stage II diabetes; have had two cataract surgeries and assorted maladies all of which cost me about $10 a visit.

I don’t have to explain why Medicare is loved by the beneficiaries and eventually unsustainable financially. The bill clearly illustrates why seniors want to keep their benefits and many like me are getting benefits they didn’t even partially help cover.

Neither politicians nor the people are addressing how to solve this enormous entitlement problem. A precious few are trying to make the program solvent but only have temporary fixes that merely kick the can down the street to another Congress. There is a way to solve it but it is not on the table – that is privatizing the program which would enable people to afford these high-priced medical costs.

The unfunded cost of entitlements is presently $111 trillion dollars. There is no way to pay off this amount by raising taxes or cutting benefits without serious political consequences. Privatizing the program correctly could deliver the wealth necessary so that every American could afford the best medical care on the planet. It is tragic that the principle that the Founders built our country on – privatizing – should have been so demeaned that it now stands for destroying social programs like Medicare.

If you have the courage to fight the battle to revive our economy and straighten out the big government intrusion, join with us at to fashion the weapon that will unseat the politicians who refuse to do the right thing and work for the people.

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