Dr. Ben Carson insists his plan to shift people away from Medicare to private medical savings account is not a plan to end Medicare. But in a hilariously inept interview, Carson was unable to explain how it works to an obviously astonished Chris Wallace.
A few days ago, Politico reported that Carson would replace Medicare with "a system of cradle-to-grave savings accounts which would be funded with $2,000 a year in government contributions." Today, Carson insisted that that's an old plan. Under his new plan... well, you tell me what his current plan is because Carson can't seem to do it.
You really need to watch the interview below to get the full picture of how clueless and arrogant at the same time Carson is. Also, the frustration of host Wallace as he tried to get Carson to explain how his plan to replace Medicare with health savings accounts – but still give people the choice of using Medicare – would actually work.
From the transcript:
WALLACE: Before we get into your plan, let me make sure I’ve got this right. Dr. Carson, you would end Medicare?
CARSON: No, that’s completely false. And that’s a narrative that somebody’s putting out there to scare people.
What the program that I have outlined using health savings accounts starting from the time you are born until the time you die, largely eliminates the need for people to be dependent on government programs like that. But I would never get rid of the programs. I would provide people with an alternative. I think they will see that the alternative that we’re going to outline is so much better than anything else that they will flock to it.
WALLACE: Well, I—let me make sure I’ve got this right, because this seems to me to be a bit of a change.
So, you’re saying that you would have a choice. You could either do health savings accounts or you could have the traditional Medicare?
CARSON: Oh, yeah, I do not believe in imposing things upon people. I believe in presenting things that are so attractive that people will very quickly migrate to them.
WALLACE: But here’s the concern a lot of people have about this plan. You would give the same $2,000 a year to every individual whether it’s a low-income --
WALLACE: -- sick person.
WALLACE: Well, that’s what you were saying, sir.
CARSON: No, that—that’s the old plan. That’s been gone for several months now. The plan now for funding health savings accounts is using the same dollars that we use for traditional health care. We already spend twice as much per capita on health care as many other countries in the world. Utilizing that money, the place where the government would come in is with the indigent because that’s where Medicaid comes in. The Medicaid budget is $400 billion to $500 billion a year and we have 80 million people who participate, which is way too many and we can fix that by fixing the economy.
WALLACE: So, how does the health savings account work if there’s no government subsidy?
CARSON: Well, let me just tell you. I’m telling you right now, with the indigent people, 80 million into $400 billion goes 5,000 times -- $5,000 each man, woman and child. What could you buy with that? A concierge practice generally costs $2,000 to $3,000 a year. And you still have a couple thousand dollars left over for catastrophic insurance, which is much cheaper now because the only thing coming out of it is catastrophic insurance.
WALLACE: So, what about --
CARSON: Everything else is going to come out of your health savings account. So—
WALLACE: How do you get the money for your health savings account? I’m not talking about Medicaid, I’m talking about Medicare, because you used to say that you were going to end Medicare and have a $2,000 government fee to every individual, man, woman and child.
CARSON: That’s gone. That is off the table. We’re not having the government do that. I don’t want a big government program.
You know, I’ve—the one thing about me, I’ll tell you something. I’m not a politician. So I don’t say that because I thought this a while ago before I had an opportunity to talk to a lot of economists and various people and cost it out that I can’t change my mind.
One of the things that’s very important about our country, we have a lot of incredibly smart people with a lot of experience doing things. I listen to that. When I’m out on the road, I listen to what people have to say—
WALLACE: But, sir, I’m a little—
CARSON: -- because how can you have a representative government—
WALLACE: Let me—don’t mean to interrupt, but I’m a little bit confused. So, if I’m just a regular person, I’m not indigent and I—you’re going to give me a health savings account, but you’re not going to give me any money, why wouldn’t I want Medicare? What’s the advantage of the health savings account?
CARSON: Well, remember, you already if you’re a regular person have a job. And they’re already giving you some health benefits. So, instead of that money going into the inefficient system that it goes in now, it gets divided and divvied up into your family’s health savings account over which you now have control and to which you can contribute anything you want. That’s the difference.
WALLACE: But isn’t that the—
CARSON: That money—that money is already there.
WALLACE: Doesn’t that mean there’s going to be government money going into my health savings account?
CARSON: If there’s already government money going into it, it certainly could, absolutely.
WALLACE: And would that be $2,000?
CARSON: But not—but not new government money. No, the same—listen carefully, because this is the concept that sometimes can be confusing.
CARSON: The amount of money that we are already spending for health care in this country is astronomical. And it’s almost twice as much as many other countries in the world. And yet, we have terrible problems with access.
If we take those same dollars and divert them into a system that gives you control over your home health care, you and your health care provider cut out the middle man, the bureaucracy. Those dollars go much further. We won’t have to use as many of them. The dollars are already there, Chris.
WALLACE: I understand, but they’re in a government system.
Last question, I just want to understand—all right. Let’s say I’ve retired, OK? I had a job, I had health insurance, now I’ve retired and I need government help for my health care. Where’s that money coming from?
CARSON: The same place—the same dollars that would be going to you through Medicare would go into your health savings account. You continue to use it just like you have been using. However—
WALLACE: So, in other words, does the government grant it as a senior citizen?
CARSON: Right. If you decide you don’t like that system and you prefer just to keep the system like it is, I’m not going to deny you the privilege of doing that.
WALLACE: Well, this is interesting, obviously, to be continued. And as you know, and I suppose it’s a good thing. With more prominence in the polls, more discussion of your proposal.
Dr. Carson, thank you. Thanks for talking with us. And, of course, we’ll see you again on the campaign trail, sir. Good luck.
CARSON: Oh, it’s a pleasure. Thank you.
As Heather at Crooks and Liars pointed out, “It’s pretty bad when even a host on Fox isn’t buying the B.S. you’re shoveling. Wallace pushed and pushed Carson on where the money would come from for his program, and Carson either doesn’t even understand what his own health care proposal would do, or he’s just lying through his teeth” about not planning to abolish Medicare.
You can watch it below, from the October 25 Fox News Sunday.
Here’s the unbiased trade-offs cutting through both Ben Carson’s and Bernie Sander’s ideological spin.
I’m hardly a ‘Socialist’ lib. I have an MBA and keen interest in all things business. That said, when I hear uneducated idiots like Rush Limbaugh stir up laymen like Ed lecturing on economic topics such as the Law of Supply and Demand I have to shake my head. Because I’ve heard Rush go all arrogant on the Law of Supply and Demand like he’s a know-it-all when all he understands is there’s an inverse relationship between supply and demand. Rush couldn’t even pass an Econ 101 class.
To cite an example we can all relate to, I’m going through a nightmare getting my HVAC system replaced. According to Ed, capitalism is very efficient and my costs are minimized. Well, not really, Ed. I’m getting ripped off big-time. How does the Law of Supply and Demand fail?
All economic ‘laws’ have many assumptions. Many unrealistic. One is perfect information. So contractors keep customers ignorant. While manufacturers like American Standard, Lennox, and Carrier indeed are efficient in production the industry is very effective in hiding costs from consumers. This allows contractors to blindly apply a 3.5x fudge factor to installations. So a $1,000 gas furnace costs $3,500 to install. A $2,000 gas furnace costs $7,000. Really? You can get 3 bids but even if one contractor bothers to actually calculate charges to fit your specific requirements instead pure b.s. how many homeowners will assume he’s low-balling (like one huge local scammer who low- balls then locks you into long-term expensive service contracts with ballooning annual fees) and so you toss out the bid? Plus, how do you pick equipment? There’s a dearth of information on system quality putting you at the mercy of contractors pushing the highest margin equipment. For example, American Standard’s house brand of the same name is cheaper than identical Trane equipment coming off the same assembly line but contractors preying on consumer ignorance exploit this for $1,000s in profits.
Health savings accounts depend on consumers doing oodles of research and shopping around (assuming the information actually exists) often in emergency situations. Seriously?
Health care is even worse than HVAC which is getting better with some limited info on the internet (much of it out of date crap). There’s far less information on doctors and hospitals than HVAC equipment. Health savings accounts assume people spending their own money will spend it more wisely and, thus, consume less and create more competition which dramatically lowers costs. However, the reality is the medical profession will use consumer ignorance and lack of transparency to suck more money out of people’s wallets! Not to mention, increase people’s costs and they’ll likely put off needed doctors visits making their situation worse! One problem with Obamacare is once people get affordable primary care they actually use it more. Like that’s a bad thing!
To cite a personal example, I’m going through a financial hosing on a dental implant surgical procedure not covered by my dental insurance.
Who is going to shop open heart surgery prices following a heart attack? Seriously. Those evil insurance companies we all like to bash – believe it or not – are skilled at negotiating with hospitals and medical providers to keeps costs down. Something you’ve probably never heard on Fox News is one artifact of Obamacare is insurance companies are squeezing hospitals even harder. Which leads to a problem of access because some hospitals refuse to comply and drop from the program.
Ben Carson would argue based upon his latest flip-flop (subject to change without notice) I’m exaggerating because unlike other health savings account plans his covers hospital coverage with traditional catastrophic insurance. Well, now we’re back to the problem of why Medicare is so expensive because seniors require a lot of expensive hospital care. The problem isn’t too many primary care physician visits. Notice Carson doesn’t prescription drugs. Out of pocket for those? Seriously?
Is single-payer the silver bullet? Certainly, government has the power to drive down costs. Medicare has less overhead than private insurance. However, the dirty little secret of single-payer is rationing of care. So that non-life-threating hip replacement surgery that under our current system (assuming you’re fortunate enough to have quality insurance) you might wait 6 weeks for a surgical procedure (real numbers based on woman I know) in the U.S. now you might have to wait 6 months or more under single-payer. So the trade-off is how long does the middle class want to limp around in terrible pain using a cane to broaden access?
The trade-off is do we ration by keeping millions out of the system like our current system or, in the case of health savings accounts by people putting off care because it costs too much? Or, in the case of single-payer, ration by delaying care?
All options are trade-offs and you’re going to get ideologues exploiting horror stories of people in agony or even dying under any of system we pick.
Actually, what’s even ‘badder’, is when the troll that rushes to defend this loon doesn’t even understand what Carson is saying. Please point out to us the point where Carson says that he is taking government out of the equation. I’m sure that “y’all” won’t mind helping us out!
In the first place, Carson was unable to explain his own plan. Don’t blame me that Carson said, on the one hand, that he was “eliminating the need for people to be dependent on government programs” and on the other hand saying that the government would give $2,000 a year to seniors for medical savings plans. And he didn’t explain who’d give the $2,000 to people who aren’t poor but don’t get health insurance from their employers.
But more importantly, what are people supposed to do when their medical costs exceed $2,000 a year? Just go bankrupt?
And, Ed, just stop with your lying bullshit. Carson HIMSELF pulled the biggest crock of shit when he said, “Well, remember, you already if you’re a regular person have a job. And they’re already giving you some health benefits.”
NO! Most businesses are NOT “giving you some health benefits.” That’s an outright fucking lie, and you right-wingers simply don’t get it. And the businesses that DO “give” health benefits are now largely taking money from YOU, the employee.
The last time I got sick, I went to a clinic (I know I should find a regular doctor, but I really don’t have time to “research” the various doctors AND check to make sure they do take my insurance). I’ve got a pretty good health care plan through my work but I still have to pay $25 just to be seen. (Believe me, you right-wing loon, I know how much I’d have to pay WITHOUT insurance. The last time it happened, it cost me nearly $200 JUST TO BE SEEN. That’s no examination, no bloodwork—nothing. Just to be seen by a doctor. And that was more than a decade ago—I’d hate to imagine how much it would cost now. But I digress…..) When my insurance company sends me “the bill” (which, so far, I’ve not actually owed anymore), they break down how much the doctor “charged” for each service compared to what the insurance paid (and, without fail, the doctor charged MORE for EVERY procedure and test than the insurance provider would cover). Because the clinic is “in the network,” the clinic doesn’t actually bill the difference. Just as an example, let’s say the clinic says a routine blood panel costs $150, but the insurer will only pay $100. The clinic is willing to take that $100 (being a “network provider”) instead of charging me the $50 difference. BUT, if I didn’t have insurance, I would have to pay that FULL $150 charge—unless, the clinic is “padding” the bill to the insurance company. (I don’t have my paperwork from the time I didn’t have insurance as it’s been well over a decade. I only remember the “co-pay” because I had to go to an ATM to get cash; they accepted credit card payments for the rest of the bill but that initial office visit charge was cash-only.)
So, please tell me where all this “accessibility” is NOW for people without insurance (or, for that matter, where it was before the ACA was passed.) You know, people who didn’t have that “middle man” involved in the first place.