How Charlie Dent’s Medicare Phaseout Increases Health Care Costs

James Kwak explains why the Medicare plan Charlie Dent supports merely shifts costs from the government’s balance sheet to individuals without doing anything to control the actual rise in prices:

Here’s how to read that chart. In 2030, under current law, a 65-year-old Medicare beneficiary’s health care will cost $60. (Obviously, this is using an index, not real dollars.) Medicare will pay $35 and the beneficiary will pay $25 in Part B premiums and cost sharing. Under the CBO’s more likely “alternative fiscal scenario,” her health care will cost $71, of which Medicare will pay $41. Under the Ryan plan, the same health care purchased in the private market will cost $100; “Medicare” will give her a $32 voucher, and she’ll pay the last $68 on her own.

The bottom line is that the Ryan Plan increases beneficiary costs more than it reduces government costs. In a weird sense, it’s a bizarrely pro-government plan: it helps the government’s bottom line at the expense of ordinary people.

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