There are many definitions for the word “crazy,” and here's another. Crazy is when you want to get out of Medicare and save the government and the taxpayer money, but the government won't let you.
Recent reports indicate that a group of five senior citizens, including former Texas Republican congressman Dick Armey, are okay with their Social Security benefits, but that the law is forcing them to enroll in Medicare Part A if they want to stay on Social Security.
The case made it to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and maybe the fact that the case was in DC should have tipped everyone off. After all, DC is the jurisdiction that passed a law stating that the city's rats could not be killed, but had to be trucked 25 miles away from the city and released on the unsuspecting citizens of Virginia and Maryland.
In any event, Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Douglas Ginsburg are said to have told the five seniors, “we're sorry. We get it, but the law doesn't.”
Between Medicare and Social Security, Medicare is expected to cost much more in the years to come, but instead of allowing retirees to take just Social Security and leave the Medicare money on the table, everyone has to take both or neither.
One might assume there is no mass exodus from Medicare among impending retirees, but what sane person would take Medicare over private insurance? Let's assume one of every 10 Baby Boomers can stay on their private insurance for the rest of their lives. If you assume there are 78 million Boomers, that's 7.8 million who might forswear Medicare.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average Medical cost per beneficiary is more than $8,300, and Kaiser also suggests that Part A accounted for 41% of Medicare spending in 2007. That would come to roughly $3,300 per year. Multiply that average cost by 7.8 million and you get how much in savings by dropping this requirement?
About $25.6 billion per year, that's how much. But even if only 5% of Boomers could carry private insurance until death do part them from this world, that's more than $12 billion a year. If you assume those Boomers will last about 20 years after retirement, hardly a stretch of the imagination according to CDC, we're talking $120 billion at least, maybe $250 billion.
Whichever number you choose, that's a lot of money. It might not be enough to fix the Medicare financing mess, but there is no one adjustment that will. But hey, let's not mess with success, shall we? Government rules are what got us here, so why not roll with it?
Oh yeah, another definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Now that's just crazy.