Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reality Check for the Left and Right on Healthcare spending in the US---We already have a de facto single payer system. Question is: How do we make it better?

Medicare and Medicaid spending since the beginning of 2008 (that is only 2 1/2 years ago) has gone from $748 billion to $992 billion, a 33% increase. The Federal government already pays a majority of the healthcare bills due in the US (USA TODAY):
""Medicare and Medicaid paid a record 57.5% of patient bills for hospital, doctors, drugs and other care in the last quarter, up from 49.3% in 2005.""

Source: USA Today
What accounts for this increases in Mandatory spending in the Federal Budget?
""The latest spending surge in federal health care is driven by more people getting more treatment, not by price increases. Health care inflation is at its lowest level in more than a decade — a 1.7% annual rate — but the aging population and the weak economy are sending more patients to government-financed care.""

•Medicare. The insurance program for the elderly and disabled grew 8.3% from a year earlier to a $554 billion annual rate in the past three months, the BEA reports. Enrollment will grow from 49 million today to 60 million in 2018.

•Medicaid. The federal-state cost of medical care for the poor and nursing homes for the elderly rose 12.3% to a $438 billion annual rate. The expiration of the stimulus law will cut the federal share of the program from about 70% to 60% in the last half of this year, shifting about $40 billion in annual costs back to the states.
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