The Advantages of Medicare Advantage

Many studies have demonstrated what economics theory tells us must be true: When consumers have to pay more for their prescriptions, they take fewer drugs. That can be a big problem. This is Healthcare Triage News.

This episode was adapted from a column Austin Frakt wrote for the Upshot. Links to sources can be found there:

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The Advantages of Medicare Advantage

33 thoughts on “The Advantages of Medicare Advantage

    • Qrow Branwen Citation needed.
      Unless your reasoning is based in something other than what this article is responding to, there is no indication that Obamacare by itself is to blame for this statistical phenomenon. Furthermore, Obamacare has been in action for too little time for clear results to truly be derived. I could respond to this line of reasoning in more detail, but I don’t really have anything to respond to (no source). For now, all I can really say is correlation does not equal causation.

    • Qrow Branwen So you’re saying a one trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthiest .001% and an increase of healthcare spending for the poorest 95% is better than an all around decrease in healthcare spending (after inflation) and a tax increase on the wealthiest 1% of .001%? Are you in that tax bracket that gets the massive tax break? Otherwise your healthcare costs are going to triple under Trumpcare, can you actually afford that?

    • I’m not talking about the ACA. Trump-care is a huge tax cut for the wealthy while taking care away from those who don’t have other options.
      I agree Obama-care needs improvement, but Trump care isn’t about health, it’s about tax cuts for the wealthy.

  1. Wouldn’t it be great if we provided healthcare based on need instead of what people can afford? But asthmatics and diabetics can go screw themselves. They should pull their bootstraps up harder if they want to have incurable diseases that need lifetime medication(that cost pennies to actually make but that’s a whole different economic sin).

    • Qrow Branwen That isn’t how food works. Ask the heavily subsidized dairy and corn industries. The “free market” has no place in healthcare because it’s primary directive is price and profit. Adequate health outcomes that best suit the patients needs are an externality because it isn’t profitable for anyone except the patient and society.

    • Free markets make things gravitate towards the price more profitable to the producer – theoretically. The price that most balances price (marginal revenue) with quantity supplied, and with the per-unit cost.
      But only if they’re truly competitive. Farms tend to be an example of a competitive market, you mostly have a lot of small ones. Drugs, however, are not.

      The pharmaceutical industry is built from the ground up on government sanctioned monopolies by way of patent, with no real regulation on price increases, unlike what you see with power or water utilities. In fact, with orphan drug laws that allow companies to acquire monopolies on drugs for very niche health conditions which are no longer patented, an affordable situation can become unaffordable. Monopolists in the drug industry are free to jack up prices to absurd heights, and often have little reason not to – their customer base is all but held captive, frequently unable to survive without the product. This is exactly what Martin Shkreli did after acquiring Daraprim, and there is no legal sanction to prevent that. What he later got arrested for was commodity market fraud.
      The extortionate pricing is just a standard industry practice, which nobody intends to fix.

    • Wouldn’t it be great if doctors and researchers worked for free and threw away years of their lives to work in a high stress industry with zero profit motive. Seriously, I don’t get where people like you come up with this kind of logic. Healthcare is commodity just like food, you don’t have a right to something just because it exists.

  2. One (significant?) issue that I often see is the general distrust of drugs and the pharmaceutical industry in general. It seems a number of people, some of whom even work in the healthcare industry (which I am studying to do), have a poor view of drug companies and their practices, with some people even insisting that drug companies will apply “mafia tactics” to prevent new cures and drugs that are “too good” to reach the market, the reason of course being so that they can continue to peddle their not-as-effective drugs to captive customers, keep them sick longer, and thus make more profit. And this conspiratorial view, I hear from people ranging from student nurses to RNs and other healthcare professionals, far more often than makes me comfortable. With such general disdain about the pharmaceutical industry, at least from my observations, it’s sadly unsurprising to me that people would shy away from drug use in general and just take their chances with maybe or maybe not going to the hospital later.

  3. I am trying to understand this subject and there has been some success. For the large part of the material covered, a very large part, I am lost. Currently I am truing to build a interactive document that will demonstrate the flow of thought in your videos. If something like this is already out there, could you let me know.

  4. We retired a month ago and plan to travel extensively using our RV. For that reason, an Advantage plan was not a good option for us due to network limitations. We went with a Medigap plan with a separate Rx plan. Significantly more costly but easier to manage at our end. My wife just had a hip replaced and our cost under the Medicare/Medigap combination will be $183. That is compared to nearly $4000 under advantage. Not much to think about there.

  5. Watched first 12 seconds. So what you’re saying is we all need to take more drugs. Got it! *rolls up $100 bill”

  6. as long there are insurance crooks running your healthcare.. you are screwed…. greetings from Germany…

  7. I have weird ailments, which requires weird drugs. The only drug plan I’ve found that covers them all is a standalone plan. I don’t like the company, but I am in no position to pay out of pocket for any of the drugs that aren’t covered in other plans. I keep checking, but, for now, this is my only option. And it requires me to have standard Medicare for healthcare coverage.

  8. So the advantage of Medicare Advantage only exists because Medicare doesn’t cover everything, and Medicare doesn’t cover everything because we legislated it to be that way?

    From my perspective, this should be renamed: The Disadvantages of a Universal Healthcare Plan That Doesn’t Actually Cover Everything.

    • “Medicare doesn’t cover everything because we legislated it to be that way?”

      There’s a little bit of a reason for this though. When Medicare was created, prescription drug costs were, for the most part, pretty affordable. The majority of people didn’t need help paying for their drugs. It was the other medical costs (hospitalization, doctor visits, etc.) that they needed assistance with. So they created Medicare to help cover those things. I can’t really blame them for not legislating to fix a problem (prescription drug costs) that didn’t really exist at the time (or at least nowhere near to the extent that it exists now).

      But now it’s a problem, and we’re having to play catch up. And it’s going slowly, so so slowly. 🙁

    • Another reason: Medical companies had a pretty big say in whether the bill was going to get passed or not through the politicians they paid. So unless they had ways to keep making tons of money, they wouldn’t support it.

  9. I did not know that. It makes so much sense and now I feel so stupid for not realizing it. In my defense, I never saw any of this because I receive help with the cost of my prescriptions due to my income. If it were not for this I could not afford my prescriptions, which would probably be more than half of my net SSD income.

  10. Hi! I think there was a mix up with the article linked in the description. It’s a link to the pediatric care piece Aaron wrote before, not to the Medicare Advantage article the video refers to.

  11. How about social security fucking covers diabetes’s costs, ALL OF THEM, ALL THE TIME, which would cost LESS to the government as a whole than people going to ER because they couldn’t afford their insulin, or couldn’t monitor properly because the glucometer needs to be changed, or got amputated because basic foot care services weren’t provided to prevent necrosis?!
    We got this in, you know, civilized countries. Like France. Or Mexico.

  12. Symbacourt, Ventolin, monolucastat. Why is Ventolin, that is the first name in “rescue inhalers” not out of patent protection protection ( I know the answer if you want to ask me)?. These are basically as much “emergency” drugs as are epi pens. Twice , in the last two years, I have gone to an Urgy care facility because I could’;t afford regulating asthma meds. At least I pay taxes. If anyone thinks I am taking “advantage of the system,” please note that I have paid income and SSI tax for about 47 years. we are the only industrialized/civilized country in the world that does not have single payer heath care to protect their citizenry and stabilize the constituent societies. Grrrr.

  13. I really don’t care all that much about US healthcare policy. I’m a big fan of the show, but I would really like to see more videos that look at interesting medical science research.

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