Kotlikoff: Real Federal Debt is $239 trillion

Uncle Sam’s fiscal gap (promises minus expected revenues, looking indefinitely into the future) is now $239 trillion. That’s ten times the size of our Gross Domestic Product. Eliminating our current fiscal gap requires either a 50 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes or a 33 percent immediate and permanent cut in all federal outlays, apart from debt service. The longer we wait, the more painful the solution gets. More.

Surprising Economics of Surprise Medical Bills

Surprise medical bills arise when hospital patients discover that certain fees are not covered by their health insurance. The reason for the surprise is that the patient’s insurance company and the hospital itself list the hospital as “in network.” Then, when the bill is presented, the patient discovers that certain doctors or certain services were “out of network.” As I wrote previously, in a free health insurance market this would rarely happen. Do you know of any other insurance market where this is a problem? I don’t. More.

Henderson in the WSJ: Some Drug Prices Are Too Low

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Goodman Institute Senior Fellows David Henderson and Charles Hooper say unwise federal policies are causing drug prices to be unnaturally low. This is causing shortages, low quality and unreliability of supply. Currently, as many as 260 drugs are unavailable or in short supply in the U.S. shortages are blamed for some patient deaths. More.

Republicans Have a Health Plan – Finally!

Nearly 150 House Republicans have signed on to a health plan that matches very closely the Goodman Institute plan developed for Donald Trump. It includes personal and portable health insurance, 24/7 access to a personal doctor, telemedical care in the patient’s own home, flexible Health Savings Accounts and a real market for the chronically ill. More.

The People’s Choices for Health Reform

Our reform framework was developed from extensive market research into demonstrated patient preferences. It draws on inputs from more than 25,000 patients, doctors, and health care professionals to determine what
stakeholders instead of politicians want from a health care plan. It is the first health care reform plan that comes directly from people rather than from Washington backrooms. Written with Alfredo Ortiz. More.

Kotlikoff in the WSJ: Myths of Warrenomics

Elizabeth Warren economic advisers say the rich pay the lowest tax rates of all. Laurence Kotlikoff says they are wrong. Using the most sophisticated tools available to economists, Kotlikoff finds that among 40-year-olds, the top 1% face a lifetime average net tax rate of 34.5 percent. Yet when positive and negative taxes (benefits) are included, the poorest fifth are facing a rate of – 46.6 percent. For every dollar people in the bottom fifth earn, they get 46.6 cents back from the government. More.

Kotlikoff: Family Endures 13 Years of Social Security Abuse

Over the past 13 years, Mrs. Jimmy Rogers and her husband have, been deprived of tens of thousands of dollars in Social Security disability and spousal benefits, thanks to Social Security’s acknowledged mistakes. Jimmy has been forced to pay extra Social Security payroll taxes and extra federal income taxes she didn’t owe. And the government is still, to this day, sending them a bill for over $120,000 for disability and spousal benefits that they rightfully received. More.

Why Not Try Free Market Health Care?

Find a health care sector where there is no Medicare, no Blue Cross and no employer and it is probably a market that works very well. Lasik surgery is one example. Patients get a package price and they know what they are going to pay in advance. Competition works. Over the past decade, the real price of Lasik surgery fell 25%. A similar story can be told about cosmetic surgery. More.

What is modern Liberalism?

If you ask liberals what they think, they will tell you they are against racism (especially segregated public schools); they favor clean air and clean water; they want to help the poor; they oppose inequality, etc. Yet if you look at what happens where liberals govern, all these problems seem to be worse than they are anywhere else. More.

What’s Wrong with Private Health Insurance?

Bernie Sanders wants to get rid of private health insurance. Quite a few Democrats, including a number of presidential candidates, seem to agree. But why? What’s wrong with private health insurance?

A lot of things, it turns out. All too often, private health plans have perverse incentives to underprovide to people who get sick — incentives that are created by unwise government regulation. However, government insurance often faces the same incentives and the results can be even worse. More.