May 3, 2012 by David K. Sutton
It ‘Only’ Takes Political Will To Make Sure Medicare And Social Security Survive
There is no question Medicare needs fixing. The biggest problem with Medicare is that it is a high-risk pool. Insurance will be expensive per person when the only people in the insurance risk pool are 65 and older or disabled. That makes it fairly remarkable that Medicare has managed to survive for as long as it has. The reason it has survived is because of a vast supply of political will and public support. But sooner or later we are going to have to address the root issue, high risk. All insurance works by having diversified risk whether it’s car insurance or health insurance. Therefore, diversifying the risk pool when it comes to Medicare means extending it to all Americans, or ‘Medicare for all’. Having one insurance payer makes the financing of health care simpler and more efficient. Removing profits from the financing side of health care means nobody is deciding what is and isn’t covered based on shareholder sentiment and CEO bonuses. Removing profits means less overhead, hence less costly health care. Fixing health care in this country means extending the same coverage your grandparents have to all Americans.
As for Social Security, don’t believe the hype. Social Security insolvency is a right-wing myth. There is almost $3 trillion in the trust fund. At current projections that trust fund (if adjustments are not made) will run dry in 2033. At that point Social Security will only be able to pay up to 75% of benefits. People hear things like that and think it’s scary, but there is nothing unusual about these projections and they are pretty much inline with similar projections throughout the history of Social Security. What that means is we have already blown through many projected trust fund depletion dates along the way as these projections are revised year after year. Now, if we’ve lost all political will to fix government (which is certainly true of one side of the aisle) then maybe we will truly hit that depletion date this time, but it won’t be because Social Security is inherently flawed. It will be because a majority of politicians — actually, scratch that — a minority of politicians with the filibuster chose to let it fail.