Two Myths.

We spend too much on the elderly.

Below find a graphic demonstration of poverty among seniors in different countries in addition to a side-by-side comparison of amounts spent on seniors in different countries within the OECD. (courtesy of IPS).

Snapshot- 65 living in Poverty

The U.S. is closest to Mexico on the elder poverty level scale. (We spend a whopping 6% compared to 12% in France and 10.7% in Germany.)  Given that so many seniors live in and near to poverty, should we really consider cutting their Social Security benefits with a chained CPI?

The “extra cost” of the retiring elderly is the reason medical costs will“bankrupt” us.

Below find a graphic demonstration of the minimal influence of more people retiring when compared to the influence of increases in the other costs and prices of medical care. (From the President’s Economic Plan.)

Medical spending on Retirees

The green line represents the impact of the aging population.  The orange band represents population growth. The blue area represents the “other reasons” for the cost of healthcare. The trend is toward lower expenditures in recent history, but since year 2000, it looks like the blue area has increased by 200+billion dollars. Could that increase just be CEOs’ salaries, shareholder dividends and excessive profit?

Below find a graph showing the expected growth in Medicare spending with two possible trajectories:

Projected Medicare Spending

If Medicare spending follows the ‘red’ bottom line, instead of following the blue line with its automatic link to GDP growth, the situation does not appear to be a ‘crisis’.

Obama is talking about more means-testing for Medicare. Medicare is already means-tested. Should we start means-testing folks at a lower, small family, poverty-line income  level?  The Obama plan talks about increasing cost-sharing from patients. Why? How cheap can you get?

The President’s Economic Report (Chapter 5) does not mention instituting price controls (so that the MRI which only costs 99.00 to operate does not cost the patient 995.00). Medical price controls would be a better place to start rather than cutting Social Security and asking people to pay more for Medicare insurance and medical services.


Notes for an imaginary margin:  A friend reports that on a recent visit his small city hospital was empty, “like a tomb”….  My local hospital doctor told me that they had ‘a great year’.  Really? ….. An uninsured man who injured himself while fixing his car went to the discount store and bought antibiotic cream and gauze and sterile tape. It is 600.00 flat to show up at the local ER and to request crisis care. ……In a nearby city, an auto repair garage is charging 108.00 an hour for mechanic work: its repair bays are empty and its parking lot is empty, and the guys are sitting around like crows on a wire….. I know many unemployed people including my own person. There are many my age who are sheltering and supporting their adult children…….. I don’t have any graphs for the realities in my imaginary margin. There is a yawning, seemingly insurmountable, big gap between my world and the Beltway mythologies. End of parallel reality statement.

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