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#11. Why Medicare Isn't The Problem -- It's The Solution

By       Message Robert B. Reich     Permalink
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Reprinted from Robert Reich Blog

From Robert Reich
Robert Reich
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Again and again in the upcoming election you'll hear conservatives claim that Medicare -- the health insurance program for America's seniors -- is running out of money and must be pared back.

Baloney. Medicare isn't the problem. In fact, Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance. The real problem is that the costs of health care are expected to rise steeply.

Medicare could be the solution -- the logical next step after the Affordable Care Act toward a single-payer system.

Please see the accompanying video below -- #11 in our series on ideas to make the economy work for the many rather than for the few. And please share.

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Some background: Medicare faces financial problems in future years because of two underlying trends that will affect all health care in coming years, regardless of what happens to Medicare:

The first is that healthcare costs are rising overall -- not as fast as they were rising before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, but still rising too quickly.

The second is that the giant post-war baby boom is heading toward retirement and older age. Which means more elderly people will need more health care, adding to the rising costs.

So how should we deal with these two costly trends? By making Medicare available to all Americans, not just the elderly.

Remember, Medicare is more efficient than private health insurers whose administrative costs and advertising and marketing expenses are eating up billions of dollars each year.

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If more Americans were allowed to join Medicare, it could become more efficient by using its growing bargaining power to get lower drug prices, lower hospital bills, and healthier people.

Allowing all Americans to join Medicare is the best way to control future healthcare costs while also meeting the needs of the baby boomer and other Americans.

Everyone should be able to sign up for Medicare on the healthcare exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act.This would begin to move America away from its reliance on expensive private health insurance, and toward Medicare for all -- a single payer system.

Medicare isn't a problem. It's part of the solution.


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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at

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