Why expanding Medicare is a worthy, cost-effective idea

  • Malcolm Getz is a professor emeritus of economics at Vanderbilt University

Expanding Medicare is a good idea. The total costs count what we pay for healthcare through taxes, insurance and cash.

In the US, healthcare is 17% of everything we produce, but we only insure 90 percent of Americans. Canada, on the other hand, spends 36% less of its output on healthcare, but insures everyone with Medicare. If the US did 36% less, we would save $ 1.3 trillion a year.

Canada achieves a better result. Life expectancy in the US is 78.7 years. Canadians are on average 82 years old.

Medicare is insurance that pays private doctors and hospitals. With a 55-year history in the US, Medicare serves 17.8% of Americans. Medicare uses simple systems to keep overheads low. Private insurance, on the other hand, thrives on complexity with high overheads.

Here are three examples of problems that Medicare addresses:

No. 1: consumer information

Private markets work when consumers are informed. However, patients are often misinformed. Consider screening for colorectal cancer, the second-highest cause of cancer death.

Malcolm Getz

Canadian officials recommend and their Medicare pays $ 20 for a bi-annual home test kit for blood in the stool. The test takes five minutes. After a lab finds blood, most patients agree to a follow-up colonoscopy as the next step.

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The US, on the other hand, puts an emphasis on a colonoscopy every ten years. A colonoscopy costs an average of $ 3,000. This procedure involves cleaning the colon so that a professional can use a video camera to look for cancer. A patient devotes a day to the procedure with anesthesia. However, American consumers often refuse a colonoscopy. With inconvenient screening, colon cancer survival rates in the US are lower than in Canada.

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