17 Medicare Facts *

17 Medicare Facts *

Americans have certain longstanding beliefs about the Medicare system, however, this document provides 17 facts about Medicare that may make citizens reconsider their current beliefs...and reconsider  the continued imposition of Medicare on Americans.

Present Health Coverage Breeds Waste

Employer-sponsored coverage has institutionalized waste and inefficiency. With employees trapped by Congress in employer health plans, insurers and managed care organizations have been able to extract double digit premium increases each year. Truth be told, individuals would never buy what employers are annually required to purchase to keep their employees happy. But because most employees don't understand they are actually absorbing the cost of these increases, they're not complaining. They should be.

HMO Guidelines or New Mandates?

The key to cost-containment is consumer control over health care dollars. Personal financial incentives, such as medical savings accounts and federal health care tax deductions, will drive health care costs down by encouraging individual cost-consciousness. Although HMOs want their enrollees to believe treatment guidelines will provide safer and better medical care, patients should be cautious about embracing an initiative that may use words on a page to limit health care services.

Applications to Med School Decline

Let's not kid ourselves. Becoming a physician today requires more than altruism. It requires courage. Caring for patients is a day-to-day battle with managed care companies. Committing an error in billing is now a federal offense. And following burdensome tomes of government regulations is all but impossible.

Blame Congress for HMOs

Blame Congress for HMOs

Only 27 years ago, congressional Republicans and Democrats agreed that American patients should gently but firmly be forced into managed care. That patients do not know this fact is evidenced by public outrage directed at health maintenance organizations (HMOs) instead of Congress.

Public Health Rails Against Patient Privacy

The public emphatically supports the right of patient privacy. A 1993 Harris poll found that 97% of respondents believed in the importance of protecting the confidentiality of individual medical records, with 36% classifying such protection as "absolutely essential." Patients know that inappropriate or malicious use of medical information can be devastating: marriages shattered, jobs lost, insurance denied, political campaigns crushed.

M.D. Confidential

Public awareness about outside access to private medical records is having a clinical affect.clinical impact of growing public awareness about outside access to private medical records. Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., current president of the American Medical Association put it well when she told Nightingale News in 1996, "These days, insurance companies don't want summaries; they want the whole record. So I think twice about what I include. Then I hope I can remember it all...If patients fear that what they tell me could come back to haunt them, they'll tend to be less forthright. I may come up with the wrong treatment because I was chasing the wrong clues."

WHO's Hidden Agenda

The World Health Organization (WHO) didn't blink twice before shooting down the United States' world-class health-care system. In a recently released report, "The World Health Report 2000--Health Systems: Improving Performance," the WHO ranked the overall performance of the U.S. health system at 37th out of 191 countries surveyed.

Medical Savings Accounts

Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) are either tax-free or post-tax accounts which receive deposits of funds from employers or individuals that are used to pay for medical expenses. The MSA is attached to a high deductible insurance policy that is chosen by the individual. MSAs are little known because of political opposition, the desire of Congress to force the pooling of all health care dollars into HMOs, and a 1996 law enacting limited and restrictive MSA regulations which discourage marketing by insurers.

Government-Supported Group Advocates Federal Reach into Doctor's Office