It's a good thing the S.O. isn't here. He might have had heart failure this morning. The idiots on C-SPAN and the morning news shows had me feeling so frustrated and pissed off that I resorted to doing actual housework in order to burn it off. You know I'm feeling frustrated when I'm on my hands and knees mopping the kitchen floor the old-fashioned way, with a scrub brush and a rag.
I think the one thing that had me wanting to reach right through the screen and strangle someone was the repetition of a flatout lie, over and over, that the problem with Medicare and Medicaid is the horrendous paperwork, just how incredibly inefficient the government is at processing claims. The Medicare program spends less than 5% of its budget on administrative costs, i.e., the paper shuffling, while the private insurance companies are spending well over 30% on administration.
Of course, there is one huge difference between Medicare and Aetna et al: the person running the Medicare program works for us. No multi-million dollar CEO salaries driving up administrative costs. Medicare is part of Health and Human Services. People may bitch about bloated government bureaucracies, but you can get an awful of lot of GS-5 clerks for the price of one private sector executive. Yes, the chief administrator for Medicare is making 6 figures, but not dramatically so. The senior executive service tops out at under $200,000 annually, although there would be locality pay adjustments on top of the base salary. Compare that with the over $15 million that the CEO for Travelers carried home in 2006.
Nonetheless, Medicare is derided for being expensive, cumbersome, and poorly managed. No wonder I felt like scrubbing floors -- the alternative was brain bleach, and that's hard to come by.
(The other thing that drives me right up a wall, of course, is hearing over and over that we don't want government bureaucrats making decisions about which medical procedures are necessary. Given that the first words out of my doctor's mouth every time he's contemplating ordering a lab test or prescribing a different drug are "I'm not sure your insurance covers this, let me check first," that argument doesn't have much traction with me.)