Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Micheal Leavitt has this disturbing, yet completely unsurprising, article about the Medicare system screwing seniors out of millions – if not billions – of dollars.
"Right now the government is paying insane rental prices for medical equipment – prices far higher than it would cost to purchase the equipment outright.
For years, the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Health and Human Services’s inspector general have been saying Medicare is paying too much for Durable Medical Equipment (DME). Just compare what Medicare pays to the prices of equipment for sale on the Internet.
An oxygen concentrator, for example, is a device that delivers oxygen through a tube to patients, and it costs about $600 on the open market. Medicare beneficiaries typically rent the machines. The rental period, set by statute, is up to 36 months. The monthly rental payment, also set by statute, is $198.40. So renting an oxygen concentrator for 36 months costs $7,142.
As with most items and services in Medicare Part B, beneficiaries pay 20% of the costs, and Medicare pays the remaining 80%. The government, therefore, pays $5,714 – almost 10 times the free-market price of purchasing a concentrator outright. The patient pays $1,428 – more than twice the free-market price of purchase."
So seniors and taxpayers are being soaked for billions because of this wonderful, single-payer system. Who stands to benefit? The medical equipment companies, of course. Naturally, their lobbyists are hard at work trying to ensure these out-of-whack rental rates stay in tact.
This is yet another example of what happens when government is in charge of something – the market pricing system breaks down and costs skyrocket. If today’s liberals get their way and convert the US healthcare system into their cherished single-payer system, expect to see countless episodes like this. The lobbyists will be running wild in DC trying to get preferential treatment just like the medical equipment manufacturers in this case.
What we need is healthcare reform that puts the consumers back in charge, not politicians and lobbyists.