Interesting editorial and I absolutely don’t trust it.
Here’s why: Matthews’ article here reads like a critique of Medicare’s efficiency and throws around a lot of numbers that indicate that Medicare is far more efficient than private-sector health care administration. This inclusion suggests two factors that support the author’s integrity if not his premise. First, including the numbers and some discussion about what they mean and how they were come by indicates that Matthews was actually looking at facts and figures rather than spewing opinion or, worse yet, propoganda designed to mislead. Second, he garners the appearance of impartiality by including numbers that did not support his premise.
What is suspicious to me is that he doesn’t include any numbers at all to support his own premise. He wraps up his argument in one paragraph by dismissing the relevance of the figures because the average age of Medicare recipients is so much higher than that of private insurance recipients. His claim is that since the average Medicare recipients’ benefits are higher, that inefficiency must therefore also be higher.
That claim seems suspect as well. I get that economies of scale favor fewer recipients with greater benefits, but by how much? If the average annual payout to a Medicare recipient is 2.4 times greater than the payout to a private healthcare recipient, does that translate to two to three times the overhead necessary that Matthews’ own numbers indicate? And if that is true, why can’t he provide some facts or figures to back up his claim? Did he just run out of space at the end of the piece and edit out the parts that support his thesis?
I came away from this article with a definite feeling that I’d been lied to. Here’s the thing that nags at me: when someone goes to the trouble to lie to me, I assume that it’s because the truth does not support their premise.
But here’s the other thing that nags at me: if someone would write an article like this that is so transparently misleading, is it because he expected no one to pay enough attention, or because he is pro-single payer and wants to undermine the arguments of those who oppose single-payer health care by association? If it’s the latter, it’s a gutsy propoganda move.
I suspect that it is the former, so this one article has tipped this on-the-fence voter a bit more in favor of candidates that support a nationalized health insurance system.
2 Replies to “Medicare/Efficiency?”
If you want more detail,
If you want more detail, read http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/rp/healthcare/accounting_cost_healthcare.asp
Long story short, the US is getting a terrible deal for a panoply of reasons. Medicare-for-all would be an improvement, but that alone wouldn’t get us halfway to, say, France.
I think you misunderstood
I think you misunderstood what he was saying about the higher payout for Medicare recipients. What he was saying was that, since it costs the same to process a $6600 claim as it does a $2700 claim, that the Medicare overhead rate appears less. If it costs $100 in overhead for each claim, the Medicare overhead is 100/6600 instead of 100/2700, therefore making the Medicare rate look smaller than the other, when both are actually exactly the same. It think it might be informative to see the admin costs per claim. I saw somewhere the admin costs per client, but that is skewed against Medicare the same way admin costs per dollars paid out is skewed against the private sector. I am sure both numbers will be used in the ensuing debate.
He certainly convinced me that the working overhead costs are at least roughly comparable, but as he pointed out, that does not include the profits and commissions for the private sector.
I also think he proved his point that Medicare overhead is far greater than Rep. Stark stated. I don’t think Matthews “lied” any more than Stark did. So why not get on Stark’s case instead of Matthews’? I feel Matthews simply brought a few more facts to the battlefield. There is a lot more to the socialized health debate than simply admin costs.
I fail to see how Matthews lied. (The OED requires “a false statement with the intent to deceive.”) Which of his statements were lies? Where any of his facts fabricated? My guess is that Rep. Stark wasn’t lying either, because, as a Congressional Representative and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committeeâs Subcommittee on Health, he probably didn’t know that the 2% wasn’t a true representation of Medicare’s overhead. But he should have known. If he knew and made that statement, then he WAS lying to us. As I said, due to his position of power, he probably just read the number off some aide’s papers and probably has no idea even what a percent is, so I maintain that he probably wasn’t lying..
As for France, they have the highest tax rates in the world as well as an additional 17% Social Security tax. France is not a good example for showing how efficient socialized medicine is. You have to pay out of pocket on average 30% for any medical expenses. Most people in France buy private insurance to protect themselves from major costs. (Hip replacements at $80,000; you pay $24,000.) Their actual health care delivery system is excellent, but not inexpensive. Cuba is probably a better example of an excellent socialized medical system, but most people assign a stigma to the very name Cuba or cannot comprehend how a dirt-poor nation like Cuba can deliver. Of course, most of the infra-structure there was built with Russian foreign aid money during the Cold War.