Is Medicare trying to kill us or bankrupt us?

Is Medicare trying to kill us or bankrupt us?
November 24 01:00 2015

Is Medicare trying to kill us or bankrupt us?

People covered by Medicare have a pretty good deal, as long as they live long enough past retirement to overcome the non-tax-deductible amounts they paid in Social Security taxes while working. If they have supplemental health insurance coverage, about their only medical cost is for the insurance, since between Medicare and the supplement, almost all of their expenses are covered.

But if you had or have cancer — beware. Medicare, or the Social Security Administration, or the U.S. government may not want you to live any longer than necessary. And in some circumstances, if you are not covered by Medicare or don’t have health insurance, besides trying to kill you, the U.S. government may want to bankrupt you first.

The best way to detect cancer in any part of the body is having a PET Scan, a test system developed less than 20 years ago. It is a full-body scan that will show cancer or a cancerous growth anywhere in the body. Cancer can grow or spread in a person’s body, remaining undetected without this scan. Medicare has recently determined that it will only approve three of these tests after Jan. 1, 2013, for a person’s lifetime.

Medicare receives large reductions on about all medical costs or procedures from what are deemed the standard charge otherwise assessed by any hospital or doctor. The reduction to the “approved” amount may vary and can be discounted up to 75 percent or more. What is unfair is that if an uninsured individual sees a doctor or has such a test, the provider must charge that unfortunate individual the full amount, or be in violation of the law and of their agreement with Medicare.

In essence, the U.S. government is the cause of horrendous price discrimination, completely unjustified by any cost differentials in providing the service. It would seem to be in violation of the Robinson-Patman Anti-Price Discrimination Act. Here we have a case of prices apparently jacked up to unreasonable amounts to provide large discounts demanded by a selected customer — a U.S. government agency, with all other consumers and consequences be damned.

Charges vary around the country, and Des Moines is undoubtedly a lower cost city for the amounts “approved” compared with major metropolitan areas. The cost of a PET scan in Des Moines is $7,973. The Medicare “approved” amount is $1,755, a 78 percent reduction. (80 percent is paid by Medicare and balance by insurance or patient.) It would seem that the real price to all people at all times should be $1,755.

We all know that Medicare and Social Security have a large unfunded liability for future costs. To reduce such costs, it may have been reasonable to limit the allowable number of these scans. But why stop there? Maybe limit dialysis treatment as well? Maybe they will put a limit on how much Medicare should spend for any one patient in their lifetime? Further, if such limitations are justifiable, maybe even more drastic measures such as an age limitation on medical care? Or carrying it to the extreme, perhaps the harshest and cruel cost reduction of all: How long may Grandma receive her monthly Social Security payments?

Regardless of limitations imposed, why does our government participate in a scheme that creates unconscionable price discrimination, making the stated price so artificially and egregiously high that a person can’t afford to pay for such a test on their own? Is the Social Security Administration trying to cut their unfunded liability by killing off some cancer patients?

These ridiculously high charges, offset by big discounts to Medicare and other insurers of 60-80 percent, permeate the entire health care system including mere office visits, medical procedures and hospital stays. It is as if there is a war on the uninsured and an intentional effort to bankrupt them as well.

To have everyone, whether under the limit of PET Scan tests or over the limit, insured or uninsured, be able to make their own decision to buy the very same medical service at the same price, is too simple and too fair — the bureaucrats can’t comprehend it!

Is Medicare trying to kill us or bankrupt us? Maybe both.

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