Sold to the public as a health insurance program for retirees, Medicare has grown since its inception in the 1960s, corresponding with the greatest increases in health care costs, including out-of-pocket personal costs for the elderly, in American history. By interfering with doctor-patient relationships, penalizing Americans who wish to pursue independence in medical care, and driving up costs of pharmaceuticals and other medical recourses, Medicare has been a disaster for everyone involved, although it persists as a popular government program.

Medicare is also the most unsustainable of America’s entitlements, with the most reasonable projections indicating that it will be insolvent in the foreseeable future. The program is already costing taxpayers far more than its proponents predicted. If nothing is done about it, Medicare will consume over 10% of GDP in 2050. This is unfair to younger workers paying into the system and not the best way to provide quality care to the elderly. Instead of confronting this reality, politicians from both parties promise more of the same.

There are humane ways to address the fiscal catastrophe, but we must move quickly and resolutely if we are to avert a total economic trainwreck. In any event, this program cannot be maintained on its current track. One way or another, it will have to be cut, and it is better to tackle the problem deliberately with a plan in mind than to wait for the day of reckoning to be at our doorstep.

Learn more about Medicare problems and solutions:

“The Medicare Spending Program”
Craig Eyermann (Independent Institute Policy Report) November 30, 2012

“Is Medicare Spending the Biggest Driver of the Deficit?”
Craig Eyermann (MyGovCost) October 26, 2012

“Obamacare and the Medicare Trust Fund”
John C. Goodman (The Beacon) February 11, 2013

“Medicare’s Progeny: The 1996 Health Care Legislation”
Charlotte Twight (The Independent Review) Winter 1998

“The Anatomy of Social Security and Medicare”
Edgar R. Browning (The Independent Review) Summer 2008

“Medicare Reform: Economics versus Politics”
Robert B. Helms (The Independent Review) Fall 2000

“The Bankruptcy of Medicare”
Anthony Gregory; April 27, 2004

See Also:

The Independent Institute’s Archive on Health Care