(Medicare Part D gave us the "donut hole," a range of costs where coverage disappears for a time, before re-appearing later.)
My title was stark. Medicare bargains going away. The news peg was a Congressional decision to cut subsidies for Part D and not cut them on standard Medicare, which was taken in September.
Those who read the story argued a lot about socialized medicine, but that's a train which left the station years ago. Ronald Reagan called Medicare socialized medicine back in the mid-60s. It passed and is still with us.
You need Java for this link, but the story is an old one. Americans pay more for health care, per capita, than in any "socialist" country. But our life expectancy is on a par with Cuba.
Obviously there are other ways of looking at the data. You can divide it by income, and find that wealthy and near-wealthy Americans do live as long as citizens of other nations. Their per-capita costs are even higher than the average.
Poor Americans, and increasingly middle class Americans, are living far more Hobbesian lives -- nasty, brutish and short. The model of modern American health care is a Latin one, an aging elite under seige from a young proletariat.
The 2008 election showed most Americans don't want to become like Brazil, or Mexico, but have a more European outlook. How will that inform health care policy in 2009?