I was fairly sure when I heard this piece on NPR that Dean Baker would get around to commenting on it. Sure enough.
It seems that NPR is unable to get access to data from the OECD or even the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services. If it were, it would not have so badly misinformed listeners about Medicare costs yesterday.
NPR told listeners that Medicare’s costs are unsustainable and that the reason is that patients do not see the cost of their treatment. Actually, private sector health care costs have risen as rapidly on an age-adjusted basis as Medicare. Furthermore, health care costs in the United States average more than twice as much per person as costs in countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands where patients see a much smaller share of their costs than they do under the Medicare system. If the United States paid the same amount per person for health care as these or any other wealthy country it would be looking at huge budget surpluses in the long-term, not deficits.
The article also mentioned Representative Ryan’s plan without pointing out that the Congressional Budget Office’s projections show that it would hugely raise the cost of providing care to retirees. The CBO projections imply that the Ryan plan, which was passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last month, would raise the cost of buying Medicare equivalent insurance policies by $34 trillion over Medicare’s 75-year planning period. This is almost 7 times the size of the projected Social Security shortfall.
In this context it is probably worth mentioning that the Republicans in Congress have targeted NPR for budget cuts.
via Beat the Press