August 22, 2012

MORE BUSHISM FASTER:

Why Ryan might be right about Medicare (Robert J. Samuelson, August 19, 2012, Washington Post)

Overlooked in the furor surrounding Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal -- a plan, it should be recalled, that wouldn't start until 2023 and even then would affect only new beneficiaries -- is a just-published study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggesting that, well, Ryan might be right. The study finds that a voucher-type system might noticeably reduce costs compared to "traditional" fee-for-service Medicare. Three Harvard economists did the study, including one prominent supporter of President Obama's health-care overhaul.

The study compared the costs of traditional Medicare with Medicare Advantage, a voucher-like program that now enrolls about 25 percent of beneficiaries. Medicare Advantage has cost less for identical coverage. From 2006 to 2009, the gap averaged 11 percent between traditional Medicare and voucher plans that, under the proposal by Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would serve as a price "benchmark." [...]

Medicare Advantage reinforces another bit of real-word evidence for market-like policies. This is the Medicare drug benefit (Part D), launched in 2006 with a voucher approach. In 2012, beneficiaries could choose from at least two-dozen plans. Part D's costs have been about 30 percent below early estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, though vouchers are not the only reason (more generic drugs is another). In 2013, average monthly premiums -- the part paid by recipients -- are projected to stay at $30 for a third straight year.

Posted by at August 22, 2012 5:11 AM
  

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