Watched This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday and heard Steven Brill (the guy who recently wrote the Time Magazine cover story titled "Why Medical Bills are Killing Us") engage in this interesting dialog with economist (and former Obama adviser) Steve Rattner:
BRILL: Well, if you put Medicare in the context of the larger health care system, and this is something that everybody at this table is going to think that I should go to a mental hospital when I get finished saying this, the government and all of us would actually save money if you lowered — I said lowered the age for Medicare. If the Medicare age were 60 instead of 65, the economy and the taxpayers would actually save money. And George, please don't look at me like that.
RATTNER: You're potentially right. And part of the argument — you're taking people out of the Medicare age to 67 is you're taking people out of the Medicare system.
BRILL: Right. And what you would be doing, is you would be putting the most efficient player, which is Medicare — Medicare spends 80 or 90 cents to process a claim and the health insurance companies spend $18 or $20 or $25 to process a claim. Health insurance companies pay two, three, four times what Medicare pays for various services. So if you lowered the age, you would put more people into the bucket of much more efficient health care.
And the worst part about it is, the reforms that we have now, with the president's plan, are actually going to raise the costs because all of the people who are 60, or 62, or 63, who can't afford the premiums that they're going to have now, are going to be subsidized by the taxpayer.
Hard to argue with the logic. Especially for folks who think that Medicare holds down the type of costs that Brill writes about in his Time article. Even so, many folks would see it as a government power grab and liken it to a single payer system. What do you think should be done to help Medicare?