Thursday, June 16, 2011

Health Care Simplified By Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday, claimed (yet again) that the Great Recession was precipitated by banks being forced by the federal government to give mortgages to poor people. After putting forth a wildly false premise, he tried to make an analogy with health care and summarized

The more the government gets involved -- and it's not just because of these people running the government. It's just structurally, the government does not facilitate efficiency. It does not lower the cost of anything. It does not improve the efficiency of anything.

Limbaugh continued "It's, by definition, a series and a maze of bureaucracies made up of people who have to construct reasons to be employed." But Rush has continually made clear his contempt for all public employees which, at last glance, included the likes of special education teachers, police, firemen, and members of the armed services. But note that he contended yesterday

there's value added at every level to the point that real value of whatever you're talking about is distorted. If this ever happens to hotels, we're sunk. It's happened to health care, and now it's happening in housing....

The whole notion of insurance and massive costs didn't happen 'til the government got involved. Hello, Medicare -- and then later on, Medicaid.

Limbaugh never explained how the cost of medical care has increased because of government involvement, apparently because it has not. The costs for overhead in private insurance is likely 11.1% to 12% while for Medicare, it is approximately 1.3%.

Further, in the year ending March 2012, health care costs covered by commercial insurers rose by 7.57% while Medicare spending rose at an annual 2.78%. D avid M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, observes "costs for Medicare patients are being better contained than those covered under commercial insurance plans."

This has serious implications because under the Ryan budget plan passed by the House, which would replace Medicare with a voucher plan, a steadily increasing share of an individual's health care costs would not be covered by government (voucher) but by the private market. Medicare costs per service are lower than those offered by the private sector and costs covered by Medicare are increasing at a slower rate than in the private sector. Additionally, once elderly people, as envisioned by the GOP, are sent into the private market, health insurers are not going to fall all over themselves to insure these, the highest risks in the market. Those which do succumb to the need to offer insurance to old people (or "senior citizens," as society, offended by old people, call them) will probably jack up rates on the better risks to compensate and to keep Wall Street happy.

Rush Limbaugh is a huge (figuratively) supporter of the Ryan plan to rescind Medicare. The thought that the government- as with veterans- provides individuals in the shadows of life with less expensive than the private markets he speaks for is just too difficult for him to bear.

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