Medicare

October 3, 2013 - 4:46 AM

The hoo hah over ObamaCare may actually have some basis in fact. It is going to cost more than anyone can today conceive.

I am on Medicare. I don't (and you won't) have any choice. When you reach a certain age you have to join Medicare or you can't get any other insurance.

Trust me. This is true.

Medicare (and it's cousin, Medicaid) were signed into law on July 30, 1965 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Medicare was considered necessary because the American population was aging and many insurance companies wouldn't cover people over 65 because you know why. We are never going to be 35 again.

So, a growing segment of America was without health care and Medicare was determined to be the best way to do it.

Medicare Part A is the "hospitalization" section. You get that for having lived long enough. Medicare Part B, however, is the doctor's visit part.

In 1965, according to the Medicare Commission website: Beneficiaries who voluntarily enrolled in part B paid a monthly premium of $3.00, which was estimated to be enough to fund 50 percent of part B costs, and federal general revenues covered the remainder.

Three dollars in 1965 dollars is about $21.20 in 2013 dollars.

Nowadays, Medicare Part B is "means tested," meaning the more you make, the higher your premium.

My Medicare Part B premium for 2013 is $335.70.

Per month.

100 times more than the original premium in 1965 - sixteen times more in current dollars.

Assuming you subscribe to Mullings this month, I will have to pay the high end of the premium scale in 2014; which is actually, ok. I'm doing well (financially and physically) and I'll pay my share.

The thing about Medicare is: If you turn 65 you're in. It's relatively easy. If you have private insurance (as I do) then it is a little more complex, and a lot more expensive. I'm still paying my share of my Blue Cross premiums, plus this $4,028.40 additional annual premium for Medicare.

You're welcome.

I understand not everyone can bear those costs, which are just for me. Our son is married and away. The Mullings Director of Standards & Practices is on her company's health plan.

All this to say, I am already on a single payer system. Except, I have two single payers -- Blue Cross and Medicare.

I tried to pretend to sign up for ObamaCare in Virginia yesterday, but (a) the website was overloaded and I couldn't get in; and, (b) when I could get in and the system recognized I was already on Medicare it said (in effect) "thanks for playing, now get off so someone who really needs this can get on."

If the Virginia ObamaCare site was down because it was overloaded (a bad thing), that meant a lot of Virginians were trying to join (a good thing).

Whether you think ObamaCare is a great thing or the end of western civ, here's a good rule: Cheering for a U.S. government failure is a bad political tactic in America.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in Fiscal Year 2013 (the one that just ended on September 30): "Gross current law spending on Medicare benefits will total $588 billion. Medicare will provide health insurance to 52 million individuals who are 65 or older, disabled, or have end-stage renal disease (ESRD)."

According to CMS (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) the number of Americans 65 or older will grow from the current 48.3 million to 54.2 million by 2020. An increase of 12 percent.

However, Medicare expenditures are expected to grow from $588 billion to $1.402 trillion in that same period. An increase of 138 percent.

Medicare is as embedded in the U.S. culture as much as Social Security (signed into law in 1935).

I have no idea what the future of ObamaCare will be. But, I know this: If Republicans want to change or dismantle it, they will have to hold onto the U.S. House and win control of the U.S. Senate in 2014, and elect a Republican President in 2016.

Fighting over a Continuing Resolution that will fund the government for less than three months in 2013 is not going to do it.

Please subscribe for $30 for the year. It's less than 10 percent of one month of my Medicare premium.

On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Medicare Handbook, to the CMS statistic set, and to the history of Social Security. Also Mullfoto that I really wish had not been necessary.