Tag: "Health Care Costs"

Twofer: Ryan’s Medicare Plan Saves Taxpayers $20 Billion and Reduces Seniors’ Premiums

Paul Ryan keeps making his Medicare reform proposal more politically palatable, while still saving money all around:

08Ryan’s plan has gone through several versions, but all of them have been based on the old bipartisan idea of “premium support.” The idea was that instead of paying for senior citizens’ medical services directly, the federal government would help them purchase private coverage plans.

The CBO still projects savings for the federal government — $15 billion — but it shows that beneficiaries will pay less, too.

(Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg View)

Deductibles in ObamaCare Exchanges

dfgFrom the Heritage Foundation, ObamaCare in Pictures.

Doctors Push Back on Release of Data

doctor-xray-2Doctors reacted swiftly and indignantly to Wednesday’s release of government records revealing unprecedented details about Medicare payments to physicians…The top 10 doctors alone received a combined $121.4 million for Medicare Part B payments in 2012…In interviews, many of the doctors said they were just passing through the payment to drug companies. Some said they were unfairly singled out even though they were billing for an entire practice. And still others disputed the accuracy of Medicare data. (Washington Post)

Hits and Misses

Costdog-1 to clone a dog: $100,000.

More lawlessness: Medicare Advantage plans will get a 0.4% increase in premiums instead of the 1.9% cut the ACA seems to require.

Is Starbuck’s recycling your paper cup? Probably not.

Consumer driven health care: There are about 1,600 walk-in medical clinics across the country and the number is projected to double in the next three years.

Where Are The Medicare Dollars Going?

A recent analysis of Medicare data provided to The New York Times shows that two percent of doctors earn twenty-four percent of Medicare payments.

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Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

Blue Cross: 15% to 20% of enrollees aren’t paying premiums.

EPA tested deadly pollutants on humans.

Long-term antibiotics apparently work for lyme disease patients; but many doctors are afraid to prescribe them.

Hooray! The Medicare Doc Fix is Fixed Until Next April!

Confident DoctorsCongress has given up on repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) as a way to pay physicians under Medicare. This blog has previously written about the futility of politicians’ efforts to “fix” the way they pay physicians (especially here, here and here).

The one they just passed last week runs for a year. And, just as always, these politicians who are elected for two-year to six-year terms voted to massively increase spending today, in exchange for draconian cuts a decade hence.

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s score of the bill, it increases Medicare’s physician payments by $15.8 billion over ten years. However, $11.2 billion (71 percent) is spent by 2015, and $13.3 billion (84 percent) is spent by 2016.

The savings to pay for this? Those come later, much later: Savings don’t become greater than spending until 2020, and not significant until 2024 — the last year of the mandated scoring “window“, when the law is supposed to claw back $9.3 billion from hospitals and re-impose the sequester on Medicare.

Good luck with that. Congress continues to make a mockery of Medicare-physician payment reform.

Medicaid Expansion Caused Most of the Economic “Growth” in January and February

We’ve already noted that health spending last quarter climbed at the highest rate in ten years, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ latest quarterly GDP report.

Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight puts that spending spurt in another context. Examining the BEA’s February income report, he concludes that Medicaid expansion explains most of the growth:

The government’s definition of income includes not just salaries and other cash payments but also non-cash benefits such as employer-paid health insurance premiums and government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The health law has a particularly big impact on that last category because it made millions more people eligible for Medicaid. As a result, Medicaid payments increased $11.4 billion in February, representing 24 percent of the total increase in income. In January, Medicaid benefits represented an even bigger 47 percent of the increase in income.

In other words, the Bureau of Economic Analysis does not take into account whether people earned their income, or whether it was a welfare payment.

Employer-Based Health Insurance: “Job Lock” Is Not the Problem, “Insurance Lock” Is

Over at The Incidental Economist, Austin Frakt is publishing an interesting series on “job lock“. This is the idea that, because most of us get our health benefits from our employers, we are “locked” into jobs we don’t like because they offer benefits which we do like (or need).

678We get our health benefits from our employer because they are non-taxable. If employees bought health insurance on our own, we would pay premiums with after-tax dollars. Given this government discrimination, the idea of job lock makes sense: If we got our homes from our employers we would surely hesitate to switch jobs, which would result in forced eviction from the current home to a new one.

But while there may be some job lock due to employer-based benefits, the problem has become way overblown in public discourse, with politicians like Nancy Pelosi claiming that ObamaCare would free the masses to pursue artistic dreams, free of wage slavery.

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

risingHealth care spending rose at the fastest pace in 10 years last quarter.

If you make playgrounds safer, kids will have more accidents.

Avik Roy hosts a paean to ObamaCare by Gene Sperling.

ObamaCare has had 38 significant delays.

Fifty-seven million Americans live in states where Tesla cannot legally sell its cars.