For the next few days, we are going to discuss one of the biggest sources of government spending: healthcare. In particular, we are going to drill down on numbers associated with Medicare, Medicaid, and other government-sponsored healthcare programs.
The U.S. Government spent $1.3 trillion on Medicare in fiscal year 2020, making it by far the largest subfunction expenditure in the federal budget. If Medicare was a country, it would have approximately the same purchasing power as Australia. Crickey!
If you used dollar bills as carpeting, $1.3 trillion would cover Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Houston, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Louisville, Memphis, Kansas City, New York City, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, and Nashville, and you would still have some left over.
For all of this money, a lot of Americans do receive care. In 2019, an estimated 58 million individuals (18.1% of the U.S. population) were covered by Medicare. Additional government-funded healthcare programs expand coverage even more.
As of January 2021, almost 74 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and almost 7 million were enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Of these, almost half (over 38 million) were children. Health plans funded by the federal government, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare, cover almost half of the U.S. population.
Virtually every family in America is touched by one of these programs. As a result, a fraud on any of these programs is a fraud on every one of us. In the coming days, we will be discussing some of the fraud on these programs, and the importance of whistleblowers in protecting the integrity of government-sponsored healthcare.
Written by Molly Knobler & Talia Mermin of Phillips & Cohen, LLP