And Medicare is not that simple. There's Part A which we get for free. That covers hospital stays and a few associated health services. However, there is a deductible of $1,364, as well as some caps on benefits.
Part B covers, typically, 80 percent of outpatient care and medical supplies. This costs us $135.50 per month, per person -- or more. If you're single and your income is over $85,000 per year, you pay $189.60 per month. And it goes up from there, as a person's income level goes up. And Part B also has a deductible of $185 per year.
And neither of these pays for drugs. For that we need a drug plan, which we can get through a Medicare Advantage Plan or else a supplemental Part D plan. The cost for the drug plan varies, but ranges from $30 to $40 per month and up. (Again, higher premiums begin for singles with incomes over $85,000 a year.). And the drug plan also hits us with a deductible.
Plus, Medicare Part B only pays 80 percent of outpatient costs. For the other 20 percent we need some kind of supplemental insurance, which could be Medicare Advantage or something else. Also, Medicare does not pay for glasses, dental bills, hearing aids, non-prescription drugs. Some supplemental plans cover a portion of these costs, others do not.
So you see, Medicare is not free. It doesn't cover everything. And it's also complicated.
Still and all, most people on Medicare are glad to have it (I know I am) . . . because while it doesn't provide medical care for free, it does make it reasonably affordable. And besides, other medical insurance options are very limited for us since we're no longer working.
Do you think most younger Americans would like to be on Medicare? Would they be willing to pay for it? Would they support the mandatory enrollment that would be necessary to make it viable?
And then, what happens if people have Medicare, but they don't sign up and pay for a supplemental plan? What happens when they have a real medical problem, and their 20 percent comes to several thousand dollars?
The obvious problem is that most people want top-notch health care, but they don't want to pay for it. The Sanders single-payer experiment in Vermont, for example, failed when people found out it would raise the payroll tax by 11.5 percent and the income tax by 9 percent.
And a recent poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Foundation found that some 70 percent of Americans approve the idea of Medicare for all that would "guarantee health insurance as a right for all Americans." But when the question included the reality that any new system would raise taxes, or that people would not be able to keep their current insurance or could potentially face delays in medical tests, the level of support fell to just 30-something percent.
I hope you don't expect a simple retirement blog like mine to provide all the answers. I sure don't have them. But if you're interested, you can go on to read Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All Explained, and related articles in the New York Times. À votre santé!