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Inflation's not what you think it is 

San Luis Obispo

I’ve had a tough week. Problems at work coupled with a death in the family and the stresses of starting school this month have left me worn out and slightly depressed. So naturally when I went looking for a cheap laugh to cheer myself up this morning, I picked up a copy of the New Times and headed straight to the opinion section.

What I found was Terri Sweetland’s article “Let the doctors design a health-care system” (Aug. 2) decrying the effects of Obamacare on her monthly Medicare payments. Her article claimed that her 2012 payment of $104.20 per month will be raised to $120.20 in 2013, and then skyrocket to $247 by 2014. Astonishing. That is, it would be, if it were remotely true.

I took it upon myself to do some light research to the validity of these figures. Unfortunately, the only source I could actually find was a 2010 pre-election chain e-mail with the exact same numbers quoted by Ms. Sweetland. Digging deeper, I found the actual Medicare costs: $99.90 in 2012 (not the $104.20 Ms. Sweetland claims to pay), and a projected $109.10 in 2013, and $112.10 in 2014. Less than half the $247.00 claimed! (Source: Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies, projected costs from 2011. Note: these figures are a little old and may vary from newer figures, but not by more than a few dollars.)

In fact, only 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay the basic rates; the remaining 73 percent pay less under the “hold harmless” provision ($96.40). So calm down Ms. Sweetland, your Medicare costs are not being outrageously inflated, those Nigerian princes aren’t really going to give you $10,000, and, unfortunately, you didn’t really win that iPad from all those surveys you filled out.

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