One of the more entertaining characteristics of single-payer advocates is their habit of making preposterous claims about Medicare. An illustrative example can be found in a recent post at the Health Affairs Blog, in which Merton Berstein makes the following assertion:
Medicare-for-all would save hundreds of billions every year. Private insurers expend enormous sums for insurer commissions, advertising, Wall-Street-scale executive compensation, and profits. In contrast, Medicare spends little or nothing on these unnecessary, unproductive activities.
This is, of course, the tired “admin cost” argument. As I have explained here and here, the claim that Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance is pure BS. And even if it were true, the program squanders its “savings” by paying fraudulent claims.
But the weirdest thing about Bernstein’s post is its internal contradictions. After telling us that private insurance companies have huge and wholly unjustified administrative costs, he admits that Medicare is administered through … er … private insurance companies:
Understand that Medicare uses private insurers to administer its program.
Uh, Merton? Are you under the impression that these malevolent, wasteful and cruel private insurers are suddenly cleansed of sin once they enter into a contract with Medicare? Come on, dude! Surely even a cocktail-party progressive can’t be THAT naive.
OK, stick with me here. Let’s use an elementary syllogism: If insurance companies have high admin costs, and Medicare is adminstered through insurance companies, then Medicare has high administrative costs. Is that really so hard to follow?
The reality is that Medicare-for-All is a dumb idea. As it is, the Medicare program has an unfunded liability of $37 trillion (that’s trillion with a T). And that liability is for a program that covers seniors only! Expanding the program to cover everyone isn’t going to be cheaper.
Bernstein and the other “progressives” who continue to push Medicare-for-All are so blinded by ideology that they are unable to absorb such obvious facts. This causes them to say many foolish things. Which is good because one needs all the laughs one can get in these difficult times.