I’ve never understood why liberals think that entrusting their health care to government employees will result in more generous or compassionate treatment. Insurance companies have to compete, after all, while there is only one federal government. Now, the Independent Institute cites data from the American Medical Association’s National Health Insurer Report Card that indicate Medicare denies claims at twice the rate of private insurance companies:
According to the American Medical Association’s National Health Insurer Report Card for 2008, the government’s health plan, Medicare, denied medical claims at nearly double the average for private insurers: Medicare denied 6.85% of claims. The highest private insurance denier was Aetna @ 6.8%, followed by Anthem Blue Cross @ 3.44, with an average denial rate of medical claims by private insurers of 3.88%
In its 2009 National Health Insurer Report Card, the AMA reports that Medicare denied only 4% of claims–a big improvement, but outpaced better still by the private insurers. The prior year’s high private denier, Aetna, reduced denials to 1.81%–an astounding 75% improvement–with similar declines by all other private insurers, to average only 2.79%.
I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I suspect that many more claims are fraudulent or otherwise inappropriate than are denied by either private carriers or Medicare, with higher costs the result for the rest of us. But the Democrats have been relentlessly demagoguing the private health insurance industry by pointing out that insurers sometimes deny claims. In that context, it is noteworthy that the government does so twice as often. And it is certainly true that once the government has your health care safely in its hands, it will treat you with the same shoddy carelessness that typifies every socialized medicine system in the world.