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Private Medicare plans are not as cost-effective

In the Aug. 20 op-ed “The poor vs. old election,” Josh Barro overlooks the fact that the private insurance plans offered through Medicare are more expensive than the regular government Medicare plan, even though they serve a healthier population. He touts these private plans as “a solid framework for controlling Medicare spending.” They are anything but.

In 2010, the private Medicare plans’ average per-patient cost was 17 percent higher than that of the regular Medicare plan. Private plans offered through Medicare have been competing with the regular Medicare plan since 1985, and the results are clear: They are not as cost effective as regular Medicare.

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To control costs, the private-plan option should be eliminated from Medicare, or the payments to the private plans reduced, as the Affordable Care Act begins to do.

John A. Lippitt

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