Once again, Paul Krugman has ventured forth in the health care reform debate (in today's NYTimes). Krugman begins with the premise that medicare works. Wonder why he thinks that? He, like Michael Moore, thinks Medicare is great. He and Moore are not old enough for Medicare so they have no idea what it is like. Furthermore, they will never really be subject to Medicare as their wealth will buy them whatever health care they want (even if they have to fly to India to get it). Rich people won't be restricted to Medicare so they think it's great. It is great, if you don't have to use it.
The problem is that for those who are eligible for Medicare, it is a complete nightmare. To begin with, just getting enrolled can be quite a project. It took me ten months to get enrolled in medicare after I became age-eligible. Thank goodness I didn't need it. (It is really a great system if you don't use it). I am covered by a policy covering University of Virginia employees. So, like Krugman and Moore, I don't really need it either. But, I have great familiarity with medicare as both my mother and sister are enrolled in medicare. Let me assure you that medicare is a nightmare to use and many things are not covered by medicare (and medicare supplemental packages) that are routinely covered by ordinary health insurance that one can buy over the counter (before Obamacare outlaws such insurance policies).
Of the 50 million Americans without health insurance, eleven million are currently eligible for free medical care under medicaid. Guess why they don't enroll? They can't figure out how to enroll. It is an absurdly complicated system and it takes social security the better part of a year to even consider an application, assuming you have the persistence to go through the mind-boggling application process. (Wonder why Nancy Pelosi and Max Baucus don't worry about the fact that eleven million eligible citizens don't bother to sign up for medicaid...how does a new program with new, more complicated, signup procedures help this group?).
As is widely known medicare is not only a poor payer for medical services, it is enormously over budget and, combined with medicaid, will run out of money in a very few years. Then what? The great system that Krugman and Moore like, but will never use, will simply quit paying for much of anything once the money runs out.
What a brave new world! Everyone will have health insurance but no one will get medical care and the costs of this absence of provision will be astronomical. (This is similar to what has happened to our educational system -- astronomical costs (highest in the world) and very little education actually provided)
Maybe Krugman should spend some time with folks that are currently on medicare and medicaid and then he might learn that medicare is a complete mess and bankrupt to boot. Is this what he things the rest of the country needs? Is this what will work?
It is not an accident that the vast majority of folks now on medicare are protesting the Obamacare proposals. They know what a disaster this will be. They are already experiencing it.