The health system Kaiser Permanente called doctors in during lunch and after work and urged them to add additional illnesses to the medical records of patients they hadn’t seen in weeks. Doctors who found enough new diagnoses could earn bottles of Champagne, or a bonus in their paycheck.
Anthem, a large insurer now called Elevance Health, paid more to doctors who said their patients were sicker. And executives at UnitedHealth Group, the country’s largest insurer, told their workers to mine old medical records for more illnesses — and when they couldn’t find enough, sent them back to try again.
Each of the strategies — which were described by the Justice Department in lawsuits against the companies — led to diagnoses of serious diseases that might have never existed. But the diagnoses had a lucrative side effect: They let the insurers collect more money from the federal government’s Medicare Advantage program.
It looks like we are headed for a overall national debt crisis, 40+ years in the making. Medicare and Social Security will be a big part of it. I’m not even sure what that means, but overall Federal spending will have to be at least somewhat restrained.
I think we know that our aging population means our Medicare and Social Security costs will continue to increase. Meanwhile those costs will be supported by a smaller work force paying into those programs.
Raising rates or cutting benefits are the logical solution. But voters usually resist.
Meanwhile people speak of universal Medicare or lowering the age to apply. Increasing demands on the US Treasury. It never ends.
Will common sense prevail? Or will the national debt continue to rise?