I drive a Saturn Vue. General Motors announced, that it was discontinuing the Saturn brand two years ago. So last year, the local GM dealer consolidated the Saturn service center with another auto brand.
My 2005 Saturn Vue-- a discontinued brand
It's disconcerting to learn that the car brand you own is discontinued. Will it diminish the value of my used car? Probably. Will the availability of original parts for the car be a decreased priority to GM? Probably. Should I have concern, that in five years, the mechanics working on the car will be as up to speed as they are on car brands still in production. I do have that concern.
So, now tea party hero Paul Ryan wants to discontinue the medicare and medicaid brands for people under 55. That puts all of us 55 and over in the same situation as all of us Saturn owners. But my Saturn is just a car. I can get rid of it. Ryan and his health insurance lobbyist friends hope we'll feel the same way, that we'll want to get rid of the obsolete vehicle and replace it with some shiny new one off the Blue Cross, Cigna, etc. lot. And they're tickled green that all those under 54 won't be driving the old model, the one LBJ first put on the road.
But there are a few problems. Generally, cars have improved with time-- better mileage, safer in crashes, more comfortable, a smaller ecological footprint. Health insurance is getting worse and worse-- bigger co-pays for appointments, hospital stays and drugs, more denials of services, tests and treatments.
Even though medicare will be there for me in five years and two months, I am very concerned that it will not be the same, since it will be a discontinued orphan. I am very concerned that once the by-then $3.5 trillion or more health insurance industry will not try to do all it can to make it unpleasant to continue to use medicare. I am very concerned that as new innovations are made, they will not be available to the orphaned insureds.
And I wonder whether all the seniors out there who are relieved that Paul Ryan and the Republicans and Democrats who are voting for this screw-job of people under 55 really are thinking this through, realizing that they're now orphans with a discontinued model.
It might make them feel a bit less un-screwed, a bit less comfortable, less safe. It's an angle that I haven't seen come up in the national conversation.