Romney Wants to Raise Age of Medicare Eligibility. Good Idea?
Posted on ElderLawAnswers by Ken Coughlin. Go to full article
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has announced his support for raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67. However, research suggests that such a move would increase out-of-pocket costs for younger seniors and raise health care costs overall. Making baby boomers wait two more years before they’re covered by the highly popular Medicare program would indeed save the federal government $5.7 billion in 2014, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But at the same time, Kaiser says the change would mean that 65- and 66-year-olds, their employers, other Medicare enrollees, and states would have to cough up an extra $11.4 billion. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, except in this case Peter would pay double what Paul would get out of the deal. The Kaiser study projects that the change would raise premiums by about 3 percent both for all other Medicare beneficiaries and for those covered by private insurance. Medicare premiums would go up because the program would lose its healthiest beneficiaries – 65- and 66-year-olds. At the same time, private insurers would suddenly get an influx of older beneficiaries, driving up their premiums as well. And this assumes the survival of the health reform law, which requires insurers to cover applicants despite preexisting conditions. If the law is repealed, as Romney and other GOP candidates recommend, large numbers of 65- and 66-year-olds would be uninsurable. Kaiser found that 3.3 million people ages 65 and 66 would pay more out of pocket for health care if they were no longer eligible for Medicare. This prompted the group Strengthen Social Security to calculate that increasing the eligibility age would consume up to 45 percent of a middle-class senior’s Social Security check. Raising Medicare’s eligibility age is a “savings” our society cannot afford; it would effectively amount to a tax on all health insureds, especially 65- and 66-year-olds.