It’s no secret I oppose many current forms of government spending. Without the motivating forces of competition, accountability, and responsiveness to consumer demands, government doesn’t have much incentive to innovate or cut costs. When you can get a legislature to appropriate more money for you rather than rightfully earning it with an excellent product, there’s something wrong. Which leads us (after a short digression) to a second story about the exorbitant waste in the Medicare system (part I can be found here).
The one interesting exception to this Iron Law of Government Waste is military spending. The military tends to be an engine of innovation, and has better cost control. Why is that? Well, because when they don’t innovate or spend money wisely, people die. Self-preservation is a pretty powerful motivator.
Which leads me to a story reported this morning by Lisa Meyers of NBC news Washington. The Medicare Reimbursement Act of 2008 was defeated this week. The Act could have saved taxpayers (and Medicare) 26%. It seems that Medicare rents a good deal of the equipment it provides–often at a cost far higher than if they’d simply purchased the equipment outright. According to the report, Medicare has been renting oxygen machines for 12 TIMES the cost of buying them! And a walker that runs $70 at Wal-Mart is being purchased–with your money–for $110.
If government healthcare costs 26% more than private, imagine how much lighter your wallet will be with a “universal healthcare system”. And that’s to get the same level of care you’re already getting…