Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cap lifetime Medicare benefits and then use a tradeable voucher system, conservative scholar says

Don Campbell has a column in USA Today Aug. 10, “Ration health care with Medicare credits”, link here

While Social Security benefits are “largely” covered by FICA tax “premiums” (including spouses’ and employers’), typical Medicare benefits run about three times what was paid in Medicare taxes, the article says.

Campbell suggests a personal lifetime limit of $150000, with a system of credits that can be bought or sold for extension.  Some higher income beneficiaries may have paid enough Medicare tax to cover their benefits, he admits.  He connects the idea of means testing to premiums that might have been paid.

He thinks that “deservedness” decisions will inevitably happen (effectively rationing) because the current way Medicare works is not sustainable.

But other “conservative” scholars recommend greatly extending deductibles, at least to recipients who can afford them.  

There is a possibility that these sorts of changes could occur even with current beneficiaries.

There is another question on life extension, as to whether “less is more” and whether enormously expensive treatments to extend life a few months (as for prostate cancer once metastasized) add any meaningful quality.  My own father died on New Year’s Day 1986 only four weeks after diagnosis of widespread prostate cancer in the lungs, liver and brain.

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