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Even two-thirds of Republicans oppose hike in Medicare age

 

Any increase in the eligibility age for either Social Security or Medicare won’t affect me. I’ve been a happy beneficiary of both programs for years now, and they’re never going to retroactively make me ineligible because I’m too young.

But I still think the idea of any increase stinks, as do most Americans (see chart above).

Kevin Drum has more on this matter HERE:

One of the favorite entitlement-reforming proposals among both Republicans and Beltway centrists is raising the Social Security retirement age. It’s a bad idea. Another favorite proposal is raising the Medicare eligibility age. This is also a bad idea, though for different reasons.

But it’s more than a bad idea. It’s also massively unpopular, as a recent ABC/Washington Post poll shows.

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28 Comments

  1. The problem with Medicare is that we pay twice as almost everyone else in the world for our healthcare. We have a healthcare cost problem, not a Medicare problem.

  2. Why should raising the age be taboo?

    Life expectancy has significantly increased in this country since the program was inititiated in the 1960’s, this despite the apparently sucky health care I am told I help to provide in this country.

    Raising the year of first eligibility even several years will have dramatic impact on cost of the program and allow continued coverage for our aging population.

  3. Craig KNAUSS

    Heck, if raising the year of first eligibility several years will have a dramatic effect on program cost, then why don’t we raise it to 97? That should save even more money!

  4. A brilliant comment.

  5. Craig Knauss

    Yes, doc, it is brilliant. It is brilliantly sarcastic. It proves a point and that is if we raise the age a few years because it will save money, then why not raise the age even more and save even more money? At what point would we stop raising the age?

    You may think my comment is ridiculous, as I think many of yours are, but I bet your idol Paul Ryan would look at it and say, “Yeah. Why not 97? I’m wealthy and it won’t affect me.”

  6. We hear a similar type of comment from the right when someone talks about raising taxes to increase federal,revenue. “Will why not raise it to 100% and take all my money?”

  7. Good point Jerry.

    Craig,

    As I pointed out, life expectancy has risen greater than 10 years since Medicare was established. Raising eligibility 2 years would save billions of dollars and more than maintain the integrity of the program, in fact it would make it more solvent.

  8. doc,
    The 10 year life expectancy increase that you give is the increase at birth. More importantly is the life expectancy at 65 when Medicare kicks in for most people. In 1960, life expectancy was an additional 14.3 years. By 2009 that number had increased by 4.9 years to 19.2 years, about half of the increase in life expectancy ar birth. Numbers from here.

  9. But still an increase, another reason why the cost of the entitlement is going up. People live longer and those that are living longer are healthier. They can work longer and have their insurance covered in the traditional way.

    The age is going to go up and the benefit is going to be increasingly means tested. Remember you heard it here first.

  10. Medical costs are highest often at the end of life, not while the person is healthy. Raising the eligibility age removes people from Medicare at their potentially lowest cost.

    Again, we have a cost problem. Raising the eligibility age does not lower the cost of healthcare. It simply shifts it away from the government.

  11. Medicare and Social Security are not entitlements we have contributed towards these programs through work.

  12. Geezer says:

    When Social Security established 65 as the “correct” age for benefits the average life expectancy of a male worker was 59. With longer life spans it only makes sense to have incremental increases in eligibility age.

    Eligibility age of seventy at this time and increases over time to 75 would correct much, if not all, of the problem. This viewpoint is from a reader that is currently 72.

  13. Brian Opsahl

    There is going to be pain from both sides on this….The fact is we have to get ahold of the deficit. The money that goes to paying our dept is getting like a black hole,just sucking so much of our tax dollars towards paying off the Credit Card…its killing us no dought.

    SS is funded right out of my paycheck ever week so that should NOT be touched as it has no effect on the deficit.

    If President Obama can work his magic on the deficit like he has done for our economy we will be on good footing in just a couple of years. But make no mistake we are all going to have to feel that pain this time. Everyone !!

  14. Geezer,
    Using your logic, then we should also roll back SS benefits to what they were when SS was established. That would solve all SS problems.

  15. Craig Knauss

    doc,

    I fully understand the basis for your comment. I’ve had at least as many econ courses as you have and probably more (including a government finance course). And I’m aware that the average life span for men is about 74 and for women is about 75. My concern is that if we start raising the eligibility age, when will it stop? Every time the gov’t runs out of money are they going to raise the Medicare eligibility age? (This is called the “Slippery Slope” analogy that you cons always like to use. ) If we raise it to 76, statistically more than half of the population will not collect one red cent. It will be a great savings, but is that what we really want? I’m 60+ right now and have no plans to collect it, but I want it there just in case. Would you like the age set at 80, for example, when you reach my age? Think about it.

    Personally, I’d rather see some meaningful defense cuts for a change.

  16. Brian Opsahl

    We spent about 750 billion on our Military today…our nearest competitor China only spends around 75 billion on theirs…we have become the gate keepers of the World…and the US taxpayers are footing the Bill..

    Now I work for a Defence Contractor and alot of what I do is Military so it would be like cutting my own throut to say this but i’m also an American taxpayer and we must make some real serious cuts to the deficit…and I voted for the President to do just that….we all got skin in this game..!!

  17. Jerry,

    Actually, using Geezer’s logic we should raise the age of eligibility for Social Security. That will happen too.

  18. Craig,

    Our deficit problem is severe enough, that we will have to probably do all of what you suggest.

    I certainly wouldn’t want to see the Medicare age extended to 80 or raised every time there was a new crisis. But the reason it needs to be raised now is not that we are in a crisis now, but rather because we are living longer now.

  19. Doc said: “Raising eligibility 2 years would save billions of dollars and more than maintain the integrity of the program, in fact it would make it more solvent.”

    And this: “Actually, using Geezer’s logic we should raise the age of eligibility for Social Security. That will happen too.”

    So doc is against raising taxes on the top earners. Probably because he is one of them. But he doesn’t mind raising taxes on the elderly. Those who can least afford it. There are many other ways to make Medicare and S.S. solvent without raising the age of eligibility.

    This is the tax increase for 2 years for someone who would retire at 67 instead of 65. A person will pay an additional $6200 in S.S. Taxes, and $1450 in Medicare taxes, if they make $50,000 a year. If the wife also works she will pay the same $6200 and $1450. That is a tax increase of $15,300, or 7.7% of their earned income. But that is better than having YOUR taxes raised. Right doc?

    It is also a windfall to the government. An extra $7650 each year coming in per family, and a savings of $15,000 going out just in S.S. each year. That’s a $22,650 savings to the government per family each year.

    If they must pay for their own health insurance, which many do, that will cost them an additional $15,000 for 2 years. Most men have wives that are a few years younger than them. If they must buy insurance for them that will be another $15,000 just for the 2 years their wives go from 65 to 67. That is in fact about 50% of the amount the husband is getting from S.S. Could you live on the $7500 left each year, doc?
    So if you add that up it comes to $45,300 to a husband and wife if the age for eligibility is raised to 67. And tell me how many employers want to keep 67 year olds around. It is a known fact that older persons are forced out of their jobs when they are in their 60’s. What would you like them to do until they are 67?

    And you as a doctor, if you treat the elderly, should know they are not capable of working much past 65. I don’t care if you think they are in very good health. They are not. The reason they are is because they no longer have to work, and can pursue activities that keep them healthy. I live in a city where the average age is 68. Those people are very active, but spend a much of their time at the doctor.

    But I guess if you are a doctor who is still wet behind the ears, and spends the better part of your day posting on the internet, you may feel you can work till you are 67 with no problem. Well, wait till you reach that age and you will see how it works.

  20. An increase of 40 cents per week per year will solve all SS funding problems. Even if nothing is done with SS, it will payout a minimum of 75% of scheduled benefits. SS does not have a problem.

  21. Brian Opsahl

    SS is not part of the deficit problem, so stop even metioning it…it’s seperate from Fed,budget

  22. I agree, Brian. The federal debt would be the same even if there were no social security.

  23. Food for thought. IF I’m not mistaken, all Social Security funds are held in Treasury Bonds.

    The obligation to pay those bonds is a major part of the deficit, isn’t it?

  24. It would net like 7 billion per year in savings. Sure, you cut out some people but you also lose their premiums. Also, these are the youngest and healthiest of the MEdicare population, so it is not htat big of a deal.

  25. Brian Opsahl

    At what point is there a cutoff for increasing the age limit…? how far do they take this…because they have done this before Remember. Nowing our republicans and how they hate Government programs im surprised that the age isnt like 93 or something…lol

    I dont want to work with someone who is to old to do there job safely either…if you know what I mean…?

  26. Geezer,
    You are right to the extent that the bonds that SS hold are part of the federal debt.

    BUT, what I said was “The federal debt would be the same even if there were no social security.”

    In effect, the government borrowed the money from SS and gave them bonds in return. If SS did not exist, the government would have had to get the same amount of money from somewhere else and still have the obligation to pay it back.

    The government used SS as a source of funding; funding that they needed and would have had to get from somewhere anyway. Therefore while it is an obligation that the government has, it was not caused by SS. That obligation would exist anyway, and our federal debt would be the same.

  27. Brian Opsahl

    SS dosen’t contribute one penny towards the deficit it is a self funded program that yes the Government has barrowed from.

  28. Milton Waddams

    Ronnie Raygun had someting to say about SS and the deficit…

    http://youtu.be/ihUoRD4pYzI

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