Medicare spends billions of dollars each year on products and
services that are available at far lower prices from retail pharmacies
and online stores, according to an analysis of federal data by The New
York Times. A comparison of Medicare figures with retail catalogs
reveals dozens of instances of the program’s paying above-market costs.
For example, last year Medicare spent more than $21 million on
pumps to help older and disabled men attain erections, paying about
$450 for the same device that is available online for as little as
$108. Even for something as simple as a walking cane, which can be
purchased online for about $11, the government pays $20, according to
These widespread price discrepancies, including those for oxygen services, have been noted in dozens of regulatory reports.
when officials and politicians have tried to cut these costs, they have
often encountered a powerful foe: the companies that sell these
devices, who ask their elderly customers to serve, in effect, as unpaid
lobbyists, calling and writing to their representatives in Congress,
protesting at rallies, and even participating in political attacks
against individual lawmakers who take on the issue.
Here is the full story. You are correct to think that not all versions of a single-payer system need discourage innovation. You are also correct to think this is what they look like.