Sunday, June 19, 2011

No way to build confidence

medicare insolvency.png
This chart from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities shows the varying estimates by the the government body entrusted with making the projections of when Medicare might take in less in taxes, premiums and fees than it puts out to the medical industry. It does not inspire confidence that these experts know what they are doing.

But the scary word "insolvency" hides a further misleading implication of this kind of estimate. In this context, "insolvency" means taking in less than enough to pay the bills -- even if that implies only a 5 or 10 percent shortfall. Medicare can still take in 90 percent of its obligations and be called "insolvent." That's not at all the same as going broke! It's more like hitting a bad patch.

If Medicare is in trouble, our politicians should fix it -- go where the money is (hint: rich people have it) and ensure Medicare can pay the bills far into the future. It would not hurt to get more people back to work and paying FICA taxes as well.