And the Democrats demand, ‘Medicare for all!’

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

By J. Edward Howell Jr.

As November of 2020 draws nearer, the voices of hopeful democratic presidential candidates grow increasingly louder. Each one is trying to attract their potential followers and supporters with promises of free stuff. It seems that Santa Claus is really coming to town. There are several of the candidates that are advocating a Green New Deal — this was introduced by one of the newest members of the House of Representatives from the state of New York. She [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] is a 29-year-old ex-bartender referred to as AOC.

She says we should do away with all electric power plants that run on fossil fuels to halt climate change; also all airplane transportation should be eliminated. To eliminate methane gas in our atmosphere we should kill all the cows because their flatulence is a major source of methane gas. She probably does not realize that she, too, is a methane emitter.

To emphasize her propaganda she claims to know that the world will cease to exist in 10 years if we do not implement her plan. She, along with many of the other socialist-leaning candidates, is promising free college educations, guaranteed government jobs and free healthcare for all. All of them claim that these are everyone’s rights. There is cause for alarm in each of these assertions, but let me just discuss the free healthcare issue.

The federal program called Medicare had its genesis in the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. It actually became effective law on July 1, 1966. It was originally administered by Social Security Administration. It is now administered by the CMS (Center for Medicare Services). At that time, all working people who had an earned income were required to make an annual mandatory contribution to their Medicare account in addition to their social security contribution. People with an employer had these mandatory contributions withheld from their paychecks. Retiring people could begin drawing a reduced social security payment at age 62, but could not be eligible for Medicare until age 65. Medicaid is a completely separate plan drawn up to help financially needy folks. This is administered by states.

Medicare is broken down into two main parts. Part A is that part that compensates hospitals for their care. Part B compensates providers of outpatient care. Medicare promises to pay 80 percent of the medical costs incurred by the patient for Part A &B. The patient will be responsible for paying the remaining 20 percent. Insurance coverage is available to pay that 20 percent. There are various plans that address that 20 percent of healthcare costs. Some pay all — some have a deductible.

Prescription drugs are another cost that is addressed under the Medicare Part D plan. Additional insurance has to be purchased to pay for prescribed drugs and the drugs that are covered vary from plan to plan.

These candidates are promising free healthcare under Medicare like the senior citizens now have. Let me show these candidates and their listening followers how free Medicare is. My wife and I are both well over the age of 65 and are on Medicare. I will voluntarily give you my 2018 healthcare costs for me and my wife; then you can tell me if you believe Medicare is free. Remember, Medicare Part A&B pay only 80 percent of the healthcare costs. Also, remember that my wife and I made contributions to the Medicare program for most ALL of our working lives and we continue to make our annual contributions — even in retirement. It is deducted from our monthly Social Security payments. Only the Part A&B are providing cost free healthcare for us today. Medicaid already provides free healthcare for people that qualify as being in financial need. Also remember that Medicaid also pays for longterm care that Medicare DOES NOT COVER. There are certain procedures that are also denied by Medicare. These costs are borne by the patient.

I share my 2018 healthcare and long-term care expenses with you now.

Medicare deduction from Social Security payments: $3,252.00

Plan F Anthem-Blue Cross Supplemental policy (annual cost): $5,928.00

Part D (prescription drugs): $3,811.20

Out of pocket (medicines and procedures not covered by Medicare and Part D): $2,854.02

Long term care insurance (annual premium): $6,294.56

Total that we paid for healthcare costs for 2018: $22,139.78

As a result of Medicare and Medicaid, hospital costs have risen astronomically. Just like college tuitions that have skyrocketed since the government has taken over the student loan program. I am ready to discuss with anyone what I feel is a very controversial topic — free healthcare. And as the topic [headline] says, “And the Democrats demand, ‘Medicare for all!’” Remember that my wife and I made our annual contributions to the program since its inception, and like the old saying goes, “There ain’t no free lunch!”

JAMES EDWARD HOWELL JR. is a native of Southampton County, a graduate pf Franklin High School and a retired farmer and real estate broker. He is also the author of three books. Contact him at 562-3289 or