As a college student living in Washington D.C., Groupon and Living Social deals have become my lifeline to food and entertainment. I live for the moment where my emails come through and offer vouchers that allow me to have amazing deals on the best things around town. Yes, vouchers do that! I love any kind of voucher I can get my hands on, since it allows me to get services for free or at a discounted price. This inherent definition of a voucher is applicable even to Medicare. As the Obama camp has so ardently embraced the term “Obamacare”, I believe Romney supporters should tout Ryan’s “Vouchercare” plan for Medicare. Vouchers are a good thing, and seniors should relish the opportunity to get something from the government that allows them to access healthcare for free or at a discount.
Earlier this week, I attended a special Democratic Congressional Steering Committee meeting entitled “Saving Medicare for Seniors Today and in the Future.” The participants in this meeting spent their time discrediting the viability of a Medicare voucher system, and slamming anyone who would support it. Contrary to the beliefs expressed in that meeting, a reformed Medicare system with vouchers would allow seniors to have the autonomy to choose their own healthcare system that worked best for them. One of the experts in the meeting stressed the problem of seniors choosing one plan on Medicare, and never changing even though their situation calls for it. By allowing seniors to assume the responsibility of choosing a health plan, they would be more conscious of the cost and personal impact of their plan. The voucher system would allow the seniors to have access to at least two of the offered plans that would have the same benefits as traditional Medicare, and also the options to personally contribute more for a different plan that suited them better or for traditional Medicare.
The steering committee also argued that by leaving seniors in competitive insurance markets, high risk patients would be dropped in favor of cheaper beneficiaries. Yet Ryan has built into the plan a system that fines insurers for covering too many low risk patients and rewarding insurers to cover high risk patients. This will encourage higher quality and cost efficient care. Medicare has become a fragmented and inefficient system that needs bigger reform than just cutting payments to providers, which is yet another Band-Aid to address a bigger problem. That’s why “Vouchercare” should be embraced as a fresh way to address a program that is quickly swallowing a majority of federal dollars.