Archive for Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finances look worse for Medicare, Social Security

May 14, 2011


— The bad economy is worsening the already-shaky finances of Medicare and Social Security, draining the trust funds supporting them faster than expected and intensifying the need for Congress to shore up the massive benefit programs, the government said Friday.

Both Medicare and Social Security are being hit by a double whammy: the long-anticipated wave of retiring baby boomers and weaker-than-expected tax receipts, according to the annual report by the trustees who oversee the programs.

The Medicare hospital insurance fund for seniors is now projected to run out of money in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate. The Social Security trust funds are projected to be drained in 2036, one year earlier than the last estimate. Once the trust funds are exhausted, both programs can only collect enough money in payroll taxes to pay partial benefits, the report said.

More immediate bad news for seniors: After they’ve gone two years with no cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments, the trustees project a 0.7 percent increase for next year, a raise so small that it will probably be wiped out by higher Medicare Part B premiums for most beneficiaries.

“There can no longer be any doubt or denial: Our nation’s Medicare and Social Security programs are unsustainable and will run out of money sooner than expected,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Congress and the Obama administration are negotiating possible changes to Medicare and other benefit programs as part of a deal to increase the government’s ability to borrow. The $14.3 trillion debt ceiling will be hit Monday, though Treasury officials are taking measures to put off an unprecedented default on government bonds until August, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.

Congress is putting off changes to Social Security, but Medicare, the government health insurance program for older Americans, is still on the table.

The longer Congress waits to fix the programs, the more likely it is that lawmakers will be forced to impose tax increases, deep benefit cuts, or both, to save them, the report said. By acting sooner, the trustees said Congress can impose gradual changes that reduce the impact on current beneficiaries and give future retirees time to prepare.


Liberty_One 7 years ago

Just scrap them both. Put together a ten-year phaseout plan so those who are dependent on them won't be left in the dust.

People should take care of themselves. The vast majority of people can, so why does the government have these programs which try and take care of everyone? Why not just have a plan for the poor?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"Why not just have a plan for the poor?"

In an economy that by design creates massive disparities in wealth, that's pretty much what SS and Medicare do.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"Why do you support the current system?"

What system are you talking about? If you are referring to SS and Medicare, while I think they could be dramatically improved, if Republicans had their way, they'd essentially be eliminated. That would be a bad idea because, as I've already noted, we have an economy that by design creates massive disparities in wealth-- a feature Republicans would like to amplify.

The main problems with the economic system you want are two-fold.

  1. By your own admission, it has never existed anywhere, anytime. In other words, it's wholly theoretical. You may have faith that your theory is sound, but it's still faith, not fact, that it would work in practice.

  2. How do we get there from here? One of the main tenets of your favored system is the sacrosanctity of property rights. Moving forward, that creates a decidedly un-level playing field for the 1% of the world's population that possess at least 1/3 of the world's wealth, and for the 50% of the world's population who for all practical purposes have zero wealth.

In other words, unless you propose a massive redistribution of wealth from the very wealthy to the very poor, we are stuck with some variation of the mercantilism you say you despise. (and nearly all of those mercantilists would describes themselves as capitalists, just as you describe yourself.) Or worse-- Friedman and the Chicago School (adherents of Hayek all) tried to implement their vision in Chile, and elsewhere, and with few exceptions, it quickly devolved into what can only be described as corprofasism.

Olympics 7 years ago

isn't the burden of proof on you?

I await your personal attack on my intelligence for questioning you.

notanota 7 years ago

L_O is all about the free Google education these days. I hear employers go gaga when they see "I know stuff because searched the Internet a lot" on a resume.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

And whatever type of brain you have never gets beyond the fantasy world inside that brain.

jafs 7 years ago

If people were angels, any system would work.

Since they're not, all systems have that problem, including, of course, capitalism.

jafs 7 years ago

You know I think you have a somewhat romanticized and biased view of capitalism.

keepingfingerscrossed 7 years ago

If someone would get all the young people off welfare, tell them they had to get a job it would help a lot. It is not the old draining the Medicare and Social Security is all the welfare taken out of Social Security. It is NOT THE BABY BOOMERS! It is the young that is lazy and don't want to work.

jafs 7 years ago


Because companies are hiring and looking for lots of employees right now.

Oh wait, ...

ksarmychick 7 years ago

As I drove around town yesterday shopping, almost all of the business that I visited had help wanted signs posted. There are jobs out there if you are willing to work. Granted it might not be a $100,000 a year job, but a job is a job. I know plenty of families where BOTH parents are unemployeed and enjoying their family time, all while collecting food stamps, medical, cash assistance and enjoying their new 52 inch LCD tv. All while my husband works two jobs while I work part time to make ends meet without gov't assistance. The problem is that the government gives out more for sitting on your butt doing nothing then you would make at a job.

jafs 7 years ago

Perhaps the problem is that you can't make enough money working at crummy part time jobs to support a family.

If your husband has to work two jobs and you have to work one, then you are collectively working 3 jobs to "make ends meet" for 2 people.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"I know plenty of families where BOTH parents are unemployeed and enjoying their family time, all while collecting food stamps, medical, cash assistance and enjoying their new 52 inch LCD tv."

I call BS.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Actually many are - unfo0rtunately they are looking for those with specific skills and not in places where the unemployed are concentrated.

You know as well as I that we have people with real needs and unemployed "artists" who want our money to support their endless search for that big break.

akt2 7 years ago

It is generations of welfare recipients. Then of course add in everyone who thinks that they are disabled and can't work. It's sickening. I saw a news piece this week where MO might start giving drug tests to people collecting welfare. KS should do the same.

pace 7 years ago

The only real reason the wealthiest are not taxed at a fair rate is corruption

the right has demonized children, women, teachers, workers, the poor , the infirm now they spin that social security isn't a paid in pension, it is not welfare. that is lie.. The dirty politicians have dipped into the account, left IOU's and now they blame the elderly for wanting to retire after fifty years of working and paying into social security. They spin lies.
Medicare is the most effective medical plan for the "clients" compared to any private offering. Kansas legislation offered pension promises as part of the pay package. The workers took the deal and they went to work every day. They kept their part of the contract. You do this and I will do that, is a deal that one should not make with the state of Kansas. Lying thieves. . I am ashamed of kansas, can't make a contract , get your money up front, because their word is no good. Liars.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Millions have enjoyed their Social Security Insurance money for decades upon decades upon decades

Why in the hell would anyone want to trust Wall Street with trillions of our tax dollars after watching BUSHCO and Wall Street destroy the economy plus put 11 million out of work and ruin retirement plans?

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Social Security privatization will raise the size of the government's deficit to nearly $700 billion per year for the next 20 years, almost tripling the size of the national debt.

There is likely not the problem that politicians claim:

  1. Not everyone collects Social Security

  2. Tons of people die everywhere for a multitude of reasons thereby eliminating thousands upon thousands of potential Social Security checks each year.

  3. Until 1984, the trust fund was "pay-as-you-go," meaning current benefits were paid using current tax revenues. In 1984, Congress raised payroll taxes to prepare for the retirement of the baby boom generation. As a result, the Social Security trust fund, which holds government bonds as assets, has been growing. When the baby boomers retire, these bonds will be sold to help pay their retirement benefits.

If the trust fund went to zero, Social Security would simply revert to pay-as-you-go. It would continue to pay benefits using (then-current) tax revenues, and in doing so, it would be able to cover about 70% of promised benefit levels

The system won't be bankrupt in any sense. On this point politicians are consciously misrepresenting the truth with the intent to deceive." That is what the dictionary defines as lying.

  1. MYTH - Social Security is going broke. Reality: There is no Social Security crisis. By 2023, Social Security will have a $4.6 trillion surplus (yes, trillion with a 'T'). It can pay out all scheduled benefits for the next quarter-century with no changes whatsoever.1

After 2037, it'll still be able to pay out 75% of scheduled benefits—and again, that's without any changes. The program started preparing for the Baby Boomers' retirement decades ago. Anyone who insists Social Security is broke probably wants to break it themselves.

  1. MYTH - Social Security adds to the deficit Reality: It's not just wrong—it's impossible! By law, Social Security's funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit. =========== Not even the wealthy turn down this $1000 a month for any reason?

How many will say NO it is evil money?

Certainly NOT I!!!

Why in the world are so many allowing politicians to tell us WE should NOT enjoy the safety net of virtually risk free Social Security Insurance? That which becomes a worthwhile supplement to our retirement.

Has any President of recent times lied to the public about Social Security Insurance? Absolutely!!!

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

So far the only group wanting to kill Medicare and Social Security Insurance are politicians and like think tanks. Quite an uninformed group of people who want to give Wall Street our trillions of tax dollars.

This Social Security Insurance program is far more efficient than any USA corporation because:

  1. None of this money is spent on special interest campaigns

  2. None of this money is spent on golden parachutes

  3. None of this money is spent on uninformed shareholders

  4. This money is tax free at retirement

  5. None of this money is spent on stock options

  6. None of this money is spent on personal jet planes

  7. None of this money is spent on lobbyists

  8. None of this money is spent on advertising

It is a great deal for the people who love a $1000-$1400 monthly supplement and we know that those who got ripped by the likes of ENRON and Bernie will damn glad about this insurance.

FACE IT Social Security Insurance has decades of SUCCESSFUL history!

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Medicare is another successful program that's been around for decades!

Why would anyone want to turn these dollars over to the medical insurance industry? An industry that provides the most expensive coverage on the planet.

What the nation needs is an opportunity to put IMPROVED Medicare Insurance For All on the table and let we taxpaying citizens make the choice for ourselves.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Why IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL?

Why? Because the medical insurance industry does not provide health care. And most consumers do not spend what is paid out annually per policy.

Improved Medicare Insurance for All would provide real medical insurance reform!

The United States spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on healthcare – $8160 per capita – yet performs poorly in comparison and leaves over 46 million people without health coverage and millions more inadequately covered.

Let’s direct OUR tax dollars to fund OUR medical insurance by our own choice. What’s good for elected officials is good for WE taxpayers!

Expanded and Improved Medicare Insurance for All is one of the solutions.

  • Easy to Implement: Medicare has been in existence since 1966, it provides healthcare to those 65 and older, and satisfaction levels are high. The structure is already in place and can be easily expanded to cover everyone.

  • Simple: One entity – established by the government – would handle billing and payment at a cost significantly lower than private insurance companies. Private insurance companies spend about 31% of every healthcare dollar on administration. Medicare now spends about 3%.

  • Real Choice: An expanded and improved Medicare for All would provide personal choice of doctors and other healthcare providers. While financing would be public, providers would remain private. As with Medicare, you choose your doctor, your hospital, and other healthcare providers.

  • State and Local Tax Relief: Medicare for All would assume the costs of healthcare delivery, thus relieving the states and local governments of the cost of healthcare, including Medicaid, and as a result reduce State and local tax burdens.

  • Expanded coverage: Would cover all medically necessary healthcare services – no more rationing by private insurance companies. There would be no limits on coverage, no co-pays or deductibles, and services would include not only primary and specialized care but also prescription drugs, dental, vision, mental health services, and long-term care.

  • Everyone In, Nobody Out: Everyone would be eligible and covered. No longer would doctors ask what insurance you have before they treat you.

  • No More Overpriced Private Health Insurance: Medicare for All would eliminate the need for private health insurance companies who put profit before healthcare, unfairly limit choice, restrict who gets coverage, and force people into bankruptcy.

  • Lower Costs: Most people will pay significantly less for healthcare. Savings will be achieved in reduced administrative costs and in negotiated prices for prescription drugs.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

You know what? I'd swear that I've seen these posts of merrill's several hundred times before on this award-winning website.

Alceste 7 years ago

Ya think that's what makes the site "award winning"?!

parco814 7 years ago

And I'd swear you learned nothing from them. Credit to merrill for still having faith in you.

true_patriot 7 years ago

If we ended the Bush tax cuts for the richest of Americans, the deficit would cease to be a problem in the blink of an eye. It's not the poor and increasingly the middle class who are losing their homes and seeing their real wages decline who are to blame.

If we could get back all the money removed from the system by the last decade of those same tax cuts, there wouldn't be any serious short term or long term threat. If we reduced corporate taxes slightly and got rid of all the tax loopholes and corporate welfare we'd be in much better shape. If we could get back the money we spent on Iraq we'd be in excellent shape.

We could afford Afghanistan and other operations without worry as well as to invest in the future of America the same way our parents and grandparents and their parents and grandparents before them invested in America - investments that we naively take for granted and take advantage of now as we selfishly refuse to invest in the future of our own children, grand children and their children and grand children.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

You're right-- increasing taxes alone would not eliminate the deficit.

However, combined with other measures, the deficit could very likely be all but eliminated.

  1. Reduce the War Dept./neocolonialism budget to zero, and replace it with a true Defense Dept.-- savings of at least $500 billion a year.

  2. Implement Medicare for all-- savings of at least $300 billion per year, with the side benefit that everyone would have access to healthcare, and an additional bonus of removing a very big headache and expense from small businesses, allowing them to concentrate on what they are good at-- especially creating jobs.

  3. Raise the top rate on income tax back to 40%, and treat capital gains the same as any other income. Eliminate the upper income cap on contributions to SS and Medicare (we wouldn't even need means testing for benefits if this were done.) Cap the home mortgage interest deduction so that billionaires don't get subsidies for 80-room mansions. Put a 1/4 of 1% transaction tax on on stock trades-- use the money to finance comprehensive oversight of Wall Street and the mega-banks, who have shown time and again that they are just too corrupt to trust without it. And cap all deductions for salaries at $200,000 per individual. Any company can pay over that, if they want, but they can't claim it as a legitimate business expense (because, clearly, it isn't.)

And with all the savings, we could devote more of our energies and resources towards remaking this country's infrastructure to reflect the realities of the 21st Century, rather than just propping up dinosaur industries simply because they have a lock on all political power.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

If the billionaires of the world can steal the labor and resources of billions, then why can't the billions steal a bit of the cash the billionaires accrued in the initial theft?

jafs 7 years ago

What specifically in his post do you disagree with and why?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

So unless someone is at least a millionaire, they've never run a business.

I guess you're more than just a closet corporatist/mercantilist.

pace 7 years ago

The only real reason the wealthiest are not taxed at a fair rate is corruption. Even if we restore the tax cuts to the richest we still need to be fiscally responsible, but that would include ending the tax cuts to the wealthiest.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Not quite true but it sure would help.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Could it be that congress is wayyyy out of touch?

The Washington Post and ABC News survey found that Americans prefer to keep Medicare the way it is and oppose cuts in Medicaid. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases while calls to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoyed solid support.

Seanator Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, has proposed legislation to impose a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires that would raise up to $50 billion a year in new revenue. He also has called for eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies and loopholes that corporations use to shelter income overseas.

"While we have to move toward a balanced budget, we have to do it in a responsible way," Sanders said. "We need shared sacrifice, not just cuts that balance the budget on the backs of the sick, children, the poor and the elderly."

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

How to reduce the cost of the federal government and public education in a large way?

Mandate that all federal government employees including all elected officials and public school employees use IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for All. Instead of using the most expensive medical insurance industry in the world. YES!

Consumers are slaves to the medical insurance industry!

This would be having our government insure itself as many corporations and wealthy individuals do. This would be a frugal step in the right direction.

Let's encourage the President and Congress to get on with this cost cutting program.

Let's reduce health care costs by getting rid of the medical insurance industry. Why? Because the medical insurance industry does not provide health care. And most consumers do not spend what is paid out annually per policy.

In fact most insured consumers are under insured which could mean bankruptcy.

Considering deductibles,co-pays,dental and premium costs plus employer contribution how much is your coverage?

Improved Medicare Insurance for All would provide real medical insurance reform!

Throwing more our our hard earned tax dollars at the medical insurance industry is nothing more than fraud against consumers and tax dollar waste.

I want IMPROVED Medicare Insurance and I want it paid for with MY tax dollars.

Let's rise up and STOP being slaves to the medical insurance industry!!!

verity 7 years ago

"Just scrap them both. Put together a ten-year phaseout plan so those who are dependent on them won't be left in the dust."

L_O, you keep saying that and I know I will never change your set in concrete mind, but I feel something needs to be said to those who might read it and think it is doable.

So, a person who is 65-75 is going to be able, in ten years, to go back to work and make enough money to take care of themselves by the time they are 75-85 and have it last until they are perhaps 100. Good luck with that.

Or maybe you mean taking to a life of crime---hold up a bank or two. Because that's the only way that will happen.

Not to speak of the fact that said people have been paying into these programs for perhaps 45 years or more. Do you want to steal that money from them?

verity 7 years ago

"I said tell those who are younger that they will have to prepare for their own retirement, and stop taxing the heck out of them so they can actually save for it."

No, that is not what you said in your original comment.

Nor can I see that it was in any way implied.

verity 7 years ago

That's not what I read because that is not what you said.

Neither do I see it implied in any way.

Good day, sir. You are not going to bait me into a snarky, name-calling fight.

jafs 7 years ago

Regardless of intention, there is a problem with your proposal.

  1. What about all of the money that those who are, say, 55, have paid into Medicare/Social Security? Why should they receive nothing for that?

  2. 10 years is perhaps not an adequate time for many 55 year olds to prepare for paying for their entire retirement themselves, especially if they don't make a lot of money.

jafs 7 years ago

The programs could be re-structured to be sustainable, which would be a better move, in my opinion.

jafs 7 years ago

Why do you think that?

There are several easy and simple ways to improve the way these programs work that would increase their sustainability.

For example, we could:

Stop collecting separately for them, especially Social Security, since the money isn't held separately anyway.

Structure Social Security as a retirement supplementation program for those who need it - ie. let's say that we decide $1500/month is a basic level. We subsidize folks up to that level, and not above.

I'm not as clear on how to improve Medicare, simply because I don't know as much about it, but I'm sure there's a similar sort of improvement possible.

jafs 7 years ago

I disagree.

My idea of re-structuring so as to make them sustainable is another option.

And, of course being clear about what they can deliver, not fooling people.

That's great that your sister-in-law can afford to contribute to a 401K plan - not everybody can.

And, of course, the stock market is an inherently unreliable way to save for retirement.

jafs 7 years ago

If they're re-structured, as I suggest, to provide benefits to those that need them, not everybody, I don't see why there'd be that sort of problem.

Unless you think the millionaires that don't need the programs would be the ones mounting a revolution?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

If the situation is as dire as you say, then what we really need is a national (international?) policy on euthanasia.

At what age should we be killing off the old people?

Should it only be poor old people, or should the rich be included?

Should we also include people with physical disabilities? Should we kill off anyone with an IQ of less than 100?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

I posted the above in reply to LO even further above. Not sure why it got double posted here.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

Very bizarre. This post was at the end of the thread just a moment ago.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Have you cancelled your medical insurance, merrill? If not, why not?

George Lippencott 7 years ago


Right now about half the seniors in Kansas rely on SS and Medicare (if not Medicaid) to live. It is highly questionable that in a system like ours they could have provided for their own "retirement". They just never made enough to so and they lacked the skills or intelligence to earn much more.

We old people remember that when we were young our grandparents were in many cases supported by the family and lived with the family. As we became more prosperous as a nation the younger generations (depression survivors) decided (they have a right to do that as the majority) that providing forced savings supplemented with government income transfer would allow grandma to live independently for much longer and alleviate three generation households. They also decided (boomers) that creating a program to provide health care to all when they reached a certain age was very desirable (old people dying in rundown tenements stroked people's conscience). The programs were created and a responsible bill levied on all of us.

IMHO, that was a good idea. It still is a good idea.

It is unfortunate that we as a society have discovered so much technology to extend life at a cost. Either we kill people by design or we pay the bill. The bill really will not be that large once we get a handle on health care costs as a whole. Our many vested stakeholders are making that hard right now but I suspect it can be accomplished if we stop making the whole process political. And, oh by the way, IMHO there is more than one way to do that.

You seem to have a basic assumption that anybody that does not earn a zillion each year is a slacker. Do you have any concept of what it is like to not have skills or capabilities to earn more? The assumption on your part inherent in your argument s is that a whole lot of people are just lazy and can do for themselves if they just try harder.


George Lippencott 7 years ago

I don't think poorly of people. I do understand statistics and human capabilities.

camper 7 years ago

Hi George. If you read the post below I do not critique you or LO.

verity 7 years ago

Mr. Lippincott, you make many good points.

I would expand on the one about getting a handle on health care costs. Yes, the technology we now have is more expensive, but there are other factors in the high cost of medical care. Besides the fact that we as a nation are not taking care of our health as well as we should, there is the problem with hospital care---too many people getting deadly infections, wrong medications, or even having the wrong procedures done because of lack of communication. Also people leave the hospital without proper information on how to continue taking care of themselves. This causes longer hospital stays and more readmissions. Both of these things are not terribly complicated to improve.

camper 7 years ago

If you look at the globe, wages and standard of living is equalizing (ie see China, India, etc). While this is good for everyone, it is not so good for the US who have long been the haves.

But the US still has the upperhand. This is why jobs are being exportted. When all things equalize, jobs will come back, but the benefits will be more comparable to the rest of the world. This equalization has been evident especially when teachers who make a modest wage are being villianized.

A lot of the junk I hear about lazy people, welfare etc.. comes from people who came from a time where they worked hard, saved, and are now doing well. They are invested, earning passive income, and passing it along. But this is OLD MONEY. The baby boomers earnings are OLD MONEY. See how mad they got in 2008 during the crash? Now they are happy, but still hate and form tea parties. All I can say is that the old money crowd is largely living in a bubble. Sure they probably take care of their kids, but cannot contemplate how the world economy has changed since there heyday post WWII.

The highest earners now are those who have an investment, and get earnings pasively. As things equalize globally, the next thing to happen will be plunge in the stock market. You see the news haedlines. Unemployment 10%.....marjket up. The jackasses sittin on large babnk accounts are soon goin to join the rst od us.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Camper, me thinks you make the problem too simple.

  1. There are many many wealthy overseas.
  2. There are many many poor here.
  3. Seniors by their nature have accumulated a lifetime of savings (if they can). They should not be punished for it
  4. Few seniors are wealthy.
  5. Investments are not evil and seniors are not the only ones holding them.
  6. Some people are poor because they screwed up
  7. Some people are rich but did not earn it.
  8. There are many many rich young and middle-aged people
  9. There are many many poor seniors.

The last time life was "fair" was when Ms Morgan made it so on the playground way back in pre-school. I defy you to come up with a better system. The Soviets tried; the British tried; others have tried. At best, their systems yielded a lot of equal poor people. In most cases, the class structure survived and prospered - just different people were privileged.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

LO Lives in absolutes!!! Half Kansas seniors have nothing more than SS and Medicare/Medicaid. Some have saved money - as recommended by you and AARP. Some (very few) have saved enough to make SS and the rest not meaningful for them.

camper 7 years ago

Yes, and while the high earnin seniors who grew up in a good time are sittin at the countyr club passing there blessings down to their kids there is only so far this will go. Maybe one generation at the least, the world econonomy will provide shocking news to these old folks. They can form tea party and complain about Obama all they want but they are really just a bunch of senile farts who will never undersatnf globalization and the effect it has. It is easy for them to blame lazy people welfare moms and unions.

Most of these tea part old farts are like a bunch of Harreb Cary announconc cubds games wnatin em to shuy up.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Well IMHO, there are poor seniors, there are rich seniors and there are middle class seniors. Few are sitting at the country club clipping stock coupons.

Globalization is a reality. We did not have to go there as fast as we did with the consequences that resulted. We do have to ultimately adjust. I remind you that the cost to live here at a given standard is much higher than it is to live in many of the “theres”.

The top 15% is doing quite well as many of them they benefit disproportionately from globalization while the rest do not do so well. We probably should tax the dickens out of that 15% since it is for the most part government policy that has enriched them.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Published on Saturday, May 14, 2011 by The New York Times

Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care by Reed Abelson

The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.

Large insurance companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care. (PressTV file image)

The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the “low level” of medical use.

Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Even with a halting economic recovery, doctors and others say many people are still extremely budget-conscious, signaling the possibility of a fundamental change in Americans’ appetite for health care.

“I am noticing my patients with insurance are more interested in costs,” said Dr. Jim King, a family practice physician in rural Tennessee. “Gas prices are going up, food prices are going up. They are deciding to put some of their health care off.” A patient might decide not to drive the 50 miles necessary to see a specialist because of the cost of gas, he said.

================================= The health insurance industry alone has six lobbyists for every member of Congress and more than 500 of them are former Congressional staff members = 3,000 high dollar mouth pieces spending a ton of special interest campaign money

jafs 7 years ago

Part of the healthcare bill includes ways to encourage and reward those who go into the healthcare field.

And, encourage more general practitioners as well.

The folks who crafted the bill know quite well that there will be increased need and demand for health care services as a result of it.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Well we could think outside the box and realize that for most care we do not need extensively trained physicians. We could start using paras (Nurse Practitioners and Physician assistants). We can also even use RNs to screen. We may also need to examine just how much physicians should expect. Kind of like teachers. With many many people marching in place, more may have to.

We may also have to accept that not all physicians are of Mayo clinic depth. There is a lot of return trade because the initial treatment was not the answer. Maybe we can use technology to reduce that challenge. If the physician was not tied to insurance company mandated time frame they might have the time to exploit such technology.

I could go on!

George Lippencott 7 years ago

How did you come up with that comment?? The concept I presented should apply to all.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Breaking News!

“The trustees’ report found that Social Security's surplus will be $69.3 billion in 2011.

“The trustees’ report states that Social Security will be able to pay all benefits for the next quarter century, even without congressional action.

Bottom line, Social Security works,” said Eric Kingson, of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign

Liberty275 7 years ago

I hope the old folks are enjoying the hopey changey they voted for because their decision is going to pop the ponzi scheme before I get a chance to collect after paying into it all my adult life.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

So your comments are driven by greed?

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Because you and L275 want to walk away from obligations undertaken by your country. You want to dafault on the bonds in the SS trust fund. You want to default because yoiu do not want to pay for them. That is greed.

Liberty275 7 years ago

I think you should be able to opt out, take the money you've paid in, purchase catastrophic insurance and pay for the first $5,000 annually out of an HSA. You can stay on the ponzi scheme if you desire.

You want the ponzi scheme, you pay for it. I'll walk.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

By all means opt out if they will let you. All the data I have seen indicates that SS can be funded at close to expected with a few changes like increasing ELIGIBILITY AGE, taxing the rich more and the like. Of course we do have to redeem those pesky bonds. Wonder who benefited from the use of my money in exchange for those bonds. Did I subsidize your educations??

George Lippencott 7 years ago


I supposed to be excited about those prospects? You act like I should patriotically accept that my life is going to get worse and worse because the government wants to buy votes.

I don't like it anymore than you. Pick your fights more carefully.

What about the $800B a year in other transfer programs we hear little about as we focus on SS and Medicare - pre-paid programs.

That $800 B comes directly from all of us and is dispensed to special interests. Just because they are individually smaller should not mean they aVOID challenge.

Liberty275 7 years ago

Yeah, it's real greedy to want to benefit from something I paid 50 years for. God, I am soooooo horrible. On the bright side, your in the same boat as I am.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Sorry, misread you. You are worried that people like LO will deny you that which you paid for not that it should not be there.

Godot 7 years ago

If the Social Security trust fund has a positive balance of $69.3 billion, then Obama and Geithner are lying when they threaten that Social Security payments will stop if the debt ceiling is not lifted.

Or Geithner is lying when he says that he has to rob the Federal Pension funds to pay Social Security.

Or the Trustees are lying.

Or there is no trust fund. Period. It truly was a ponzi scheme, and now the Treasury scammers cannot borrow anymore to cover their crimes. The gig is up.

They have lied and cheated so much, they cannot even keep their stories straight.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

The money in the fund is spent. There are bonds in the full faith and credit of the US - whatever that is worth. Default is default.

Godot 7 years ago

Sorry, George, but I believe your understanding is incorrect. There are no bonds, no marketable securities and no funds in the Social Security Trust. There are simply accounting entries. All we have are IOU's from a bankrupt debtor.

Godot 7 years ago

It most certainly is. Timmy Geithner admits it. If the credit card limit isn't lifted to infinity, the whole thing crashes. Are you calling your boy a liar?

Richard Payton 7 years ago

Timmy G-man wants Congress to raise the debt roof now that we've reached the limit that was set not long ago. Timmy G-man now is raiding retirement funds "ouch" and keeping two sets of books.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Who decided to run multiple wars without paying for them?? Who "invented" Medicare part D with no money? Who increased the annual government payout (not for financial recovery) by 50% without raising taxes? Who invented a big government give away program (Obama Care) with no funds to pay for it?

Looks to me like this debt thing has many fingers in the pot. If I were king I would lift it temporarily with a lock in on reductions in spending to live within our means (tax increase on the rich included). Might take ten years or more to fix the problem as long as we start in the right direction and commit to keep going.

We simply can not do rational things under the gun of an arbitrary deadline.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

ObamaCare is not a give away no way jose'

It is still in the hands of the medical insurance industry as always. That is the true scam. Yes the Medical Insurance Industry is the scam.

Why in the name of god is health insurance and other coverage so damn expensive?

  1. Obscene CEO wages

  2. stock options

  3. golden parachutes

  4. shareholders

  5. Corp jet planes

  6. Executive golf in the Bahamas

  7. Corp Limo

  8. executive girl friends

  9. lifetime medical insurance for the executives

  10. 3 martini lunch's

George Lippencott 7 years ago

My definition. Yes it is as we will subsidize families UP TO About 88K in income. That is not my real beef. My beef is that we have not identified a source for that money.

I could care about your ceaseless argument about waste in the health insurance industry. Obama Care does not deal with that. Virtually nothing you listed is unique to that industry or even to the private sector. Does not our senior executives get most of those perks either with direct tax money or as "goodies from the corporate world?? Tell me about first class transatlantic travel for IMF big wigs paid for by whom?

Sir, you are extremely biased, mis-focused and misleading. There are good arguments for a national program properly constructed – your arguments are a disservice to that effort

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Bitchin About the debt

Every time I hear someone bitching about the national debt it is usually the same people pushing to stop Social Security Insurance and Medicare.

Unless taxes are raised, the government(taxpayers) would have to borrow up to $4 trillion over the next 20 years to make up the money that is drained out of the system by private accounts.

Social Security privatization will raise the size of the government's deficit to nearly $700 billion per year for the next 20 years, almost tripling the size of the national debt.

Put simply, moving to a system of private accounts would not only put retirement income at risk--it would likely put the entire economy at risk.

This leads me to believe that these people do not really give a damn about the national debt. Hell they sat back and watched Reagan/Bush,Bush/Quale and Bush/Cheney increase the debt by their borrow borrow borrow spend spend spend nonsense.

Now that the white house is occupied by a black president the national debt is suddenly a horrifying experience.

Do these people have minds of their own or are they simply sheep by nature?

These are people who seem to take their talking points from the higher up's and it ain't comin from GOD.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

No more a sheep than you. Just focused on the other guys talking points!!

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Myth: Social Security adds to the deficit

Reality: It's not just wrong—it's impossible! By law, Social Security's funds are separate from the budget, and it must pay its own way. That means that Social Security can't add one penny to the deficit.

Millions upon millions have either enjoyed or are enjoying their Social Security Insurance.

These millions likely enjoy Social Security Insurance to the fullest extent. Far be it from me to turn down a $1000 a month supplement. That would simply be stupid.

Not only that so many many continue to work thus contributing to Social Security Insurance for future generations. I know of no one who is doing nothing. Millions still enjoy making money.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

Wrong We must redeem the bonds and that money comes from the general fund and is part of the future predicted problem. Our elected elites must have been confused when they spent the trust funds and filled it with obligaTIONS to be paid by the very people the trust fund was to have pre-funded - the boomers.

Perhaps wes should require significant sacrifice on the part of the elected elites when the rest of us have to eat the mess they made.

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