Ben Carson’s “Prescription for Empowerment”

Earlier this week Ben Carson released his “Prescription for Empowerment,” which is an outline of a health reform plan. For the American Journal of Managed Care, I answered a few questions about it. Here’s a teaser quote:

[R]aising the Medicare age only “saves” money if by “save” you mean “ignore how much more it costs,” which is a lot.

Go read the rest.

Meanwhile, here are a few other things I noticed in the proposal that I care to comment on (I’m letting a lot of other things go because I don’t have time):

“[M]inimal essential coverage” deemed satisfactory to Washington […] required [consumers] to pay for things like marriage therapy and acupuncture, whether they wanted them or not. [Cites this.]

Actually, essential health benefits are driven by state-level decisions and markets.

In critiquing Medicare Dr. Carson wrote,

Overall, the percentage of doctors who closed their practices to Medicare or Medicaid by 2012 had increased by 47 percent in just the four years since 2008. [Cites this.]

I don’t have time to fact check this (go ahead and click through to the citation to see for yourself), but I just wanted to flag that this is not a specific critique of Medicare. It conflates Medicare and Medicaid. Moving on,

[T]he Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be depleted just 15 years from now, in 2030. [Cites this.]

The trust fund is always within some number of years of depletion, and 15 is fairly long as these things go. Typically, policy action occurs when we’re within seven years of depletion. So, if history is any guide, now is probably not the best time to succeed at Medicare reform. Still (and I mean this without implying endorsement), best of luck to Dr. Carson!


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