Next month I will get my first social security check. At my age, my doctors’ visits are now regularly scheduled events (annual check up, dermatologist, allergist, and periodontist). Since I will be leaving Blue Cross Blue Shield and will be under Medicare I asked each if they would still keep me as a patient. They all said yes. I was relieved but something occurred to me. Under my present health care plan, the provider seldom pays 100 percent of the bill – even with the co-pay. I always get a bill for what was not covered. Since the Federal government’s solution to the costs of medicare is to pay the doctors an ever decreasing percentage of the bills, the talking heads say that the doctors are getting squeezed and will start accepting fewer and fewer medicare patients if they accept them at all. This makes no sense to me. It simply means that instead of getting a bill from my doctor for $50, it will be for a larger amount. Currently if I did not pay my doctors, they would drop me even though I have Blue Cross Blue Shield. So why would they drop me if I have medicare if I continue to pay the amount not covered by the government? In essence, medicare is being means tested as well as rationed. It is rationed because as most of us already know, medicare has a higher denial rate than any private insurer. It also covers fewer prescription drugs. So I don’t understand no one has ever pointed this out. There is no need for “death panels” in medicare because it is already being rationed. Thus, there should be no need for death panels either in Obamacare for the same reason.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com