In a new two-minute video for MoveOn, Robert Reich makes the case for why Medicare is part of the solution to fixing our economy. We should be expanding it and offering it to everyone in America through the Affordable Care Act’s state health insurance exchanges. Seven out of ten likely voters (71 percent) support giving all Americans the choice of buying into Medicare as a way to drive competition in the health insurance marketplace.
Medicare is far more cost-effective than private health insurance. Because Medicare covers more than 50 million older adults and people with disabilities who need a lot of health care, the government is able to negotiate doctor and hospital rates that are lower than what the private insurers are able to negotiate. And, if Congress would lift the prohibition on Medicare negotiating drug prices with the drug companies, it would be able to bring those prices down as well.
At the same time, traditional Medicare gives people the option of seeing virtually any doctor and using almost any hospital in the country, in most instances, with no out-of-pocket costs so long as they have supplemental insurance or Medicaid. That’s why the overwhelming majority of people newly eligible for Medicare enroll in traditional Medicare.
Those in Congress proposing to cut Medicare and shift more people into private Medicare HMOs and other private health plans need to recognize that the private plans mean higher health care costs for all. They are unable to use their leverage to bring down costs.