Thursday, June 23, 2011

Medicare - insurance SHOULD be non-profit and gov run

Medicare Saves Money -
The idea of Medicare as a money-saving program may seem hard to grasp. After all, hasn’t Medicare spending risen dramatically over time? Yes, it has: adjusting for overall inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 percent from 1969 to 2009.

But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 percent over the same period. So while it’s true that Medicare has done an inadequate job of controlling costs, the private sector has done much worse.

For-profit insurance is simply a wasteful model: it necessitates "more" spending on administrative overhead (to vet subscribers) -- and moreover defeats the entire purpose of insurance. Insurance is about shared risk. If you try to manage your risk pool such that you only have people in that pool who are the LEAST likely to use the benefit -- sure, you increase profits, but you leave those who NEED the insurance out of game: or at least make them pay a LOT more (which again, defeats the purpose of insurance as "shared risk".

By the way, we have direct evidence about the higher costs of private insurance via the Medicare Advantage program, which allows Medicare beneficiaries to get their coverage through the private sector. This was supposed to save money; in fact, the program costs taxpayers substantially more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why don't people see the value of government supported R&D and a job stimulus plan?

People are rightly concerned about unemployment. But those on the right -- and many in the main stream -- don't want government to do the one thing is really can to help the situation: use deficit spending to stimulate the economy and focus it on the technologies and areas that will be the future of the world's economy.

I'm tired of hearing the mantra: the government doesn't create jobs. BULL.  Everything from construction companies that build and maintain our highways -- to our national labs (which are underfunded today) that develop basic science into technologies that find their way into the commercial sector -- to direct support for car companies: all demonstrate that the government directly plays a role in stabilizing an economy.

I don't even have to mention the defense industry (which I just did!) -- how many 100's of thousands are employed by Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop, etc. ONLY because of government contracts?

But instead of using government funds to stimulate research & dev -- we are squandering it on tax cuts to the top 2-3% ... who DO NOT CREATE jobs: Median income has been stagnant since the 80's.

The country needs to develop the new technologies that will be in demand in the 21st century: clean energy, etc. ... But instead of leading the way, we will be BUYING this technology from the Chinese and Europeans who are investing in this research today.  If we allowed government to lead just a bit more we could drive innovation and create jobs (that the market will NOT right now since clean energy is not 'economically self-sustaining').  The US can once again generate the intellectual property that drives the economy (as we did in the 50's and 60's). But this is unlikely: the predominate view is that free markets are a panacea: a magic process that will solve ALL our problems. It's an infantile attitude and will inevitably lead to other nations and governments taking the technological lead in the 21st century... The century, that if we are LUCKY, we'll be playing catch up. If not, we'll simply continue to wither on the vine...