Friday, July 10, 2009

Myth Busting: Medicare administrative costs are higher, not lower

Our president and his communicators claim there will be large savings by getting people into his government health care, known as the "public plan," but Heritage checked and it's not true. Robert Book at Heritage:
Many advocates of a public health plan--either a "single-payer" plan or a "public option"--claim that a public health plan will save money compared to private health insurance because "everyone knows" that the largest government health program, Medicare, has lower administrative costs than private insurance. Some even claim that switching every private insured American to Medicare or something like it could save the nation enough money to cover all currently uninsured Americans. Advocates of a public plan assert that Medicare has administrative costs of 3 percent (or 6 to 8 percent if support from other government agencies is included), compared to 14 to 22 percent for private employer-sponsored health insurance (depending on which study is cited), or even more for individually purchased insurance. They attribute the difference to superior efficiency of government,[1] private insurance companies' expenditures on marketing,[2] efforts to deny claims,[3] unrestrained pursuit of profit,[4] and high executive salaries.[5] However, on a per-person basis Medicare's administrative costs are actually higher than those of private insurance--this despite the fact that private insurance companies do incur several categories of costs that do not apply to Medicare. If recent cost history is any guide, switching the more than 200 million Americans with private insurance to a public plan will not save money but will actually increase health care administrative costs by several billion dollars.
Patterico points out that Paul Krugman was sent out to damage this Heritage study. But comments are allowed, so Dr. Book embarassed Krugman on Krugman's own blog! Furthermore, Krugman doesn't address Book's point on comparing ALL the costs:
Public figures for Medicare’s administrative costs count only what it takes to print reimbursement checks. Normal operating costs — rent, management, health insurance, taxes, capital to start a business and new equipment — which private insurers must include in their administrative costs, are counted elsewhere in the federal budget. Official Medicare administrative costs simply exclude what most companies must include. No administrative cost savings exist in the public plan, and the true costs will never be counted because they’ll be hidden in the federal budget.
It's time to contact our Congressmen and Senators. They are all automatic votes for any proposal that gives the government more control. But let them know the facts don't support them.

No comments: