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Richard (RJ) Eskow
Published: Saturday 8 December 2012
With the private-sector economy struggling and politicians worried about government spending, the biggest proposal on the table is raising the Medicare age to 67.

A Higher Medicare Age Means a Lower Quality of Life

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It’s almost impossible to believe: With the private-sector economy struggling and politicians worried about government spending, the biggest proposal on the table is raising the Medicare age to 67. That would take far more out of household budgets than it would save in government spending – and the savings would be short-lived.

What’s more, it would impose terrible hardships on lots of people. Why do the truly terrible ideas always seem to become the really Big Ideas?

Oddly, John Boehner won’t come right out and say what he’s proposing. Instead he throws out a large figure – $600 billion in cuts over ten years – and says somewhat obliquely that he supports a proposal from former Clinton White House official Erskine Bowles. Since that proposal discussed raising the Medicare age, journalists and insiders have inferred (undoubtedly rightly) that Boehner is endorsing that option.

But he won’t speak the words. He’ll only say “$600 billion” and some mumbo-jumbo that comes out sounding like he’s saying “that thing that Bowles wants to do.”

You know … that thing.

That “thing” — raising the Medicare eligibility age — is once again under serious discussion. It’s an idea Yale Professor Jacob Hacker called “the single worst idea for Medicare reform” (if by reform we mean “slashing.”) And it’s not just a terrible thing to do to Medicare. It’s also a terrible idea for health care costs, job creation … in fact, for the entire economy.

A Kaiser Foundation study showed that “raising Medicare’s eligibility to 67 in 2014 would generate an estimated $5.7 billion in net savings to the federal government, but also result in an estimated net increase of $3.7 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, and $4.5 billion in employer retiree health-care costs.”

So it would save $5.7 billion from the Federal budget in the first year, but it would cost everyone else $8.2 billion. That means it would increase overall health care costs by $2.5 billion.

“Among the estimated 5 million affected 65- and 66-year-olds,” the Kaiser study reports, “about two in three would pay an average of $2,200 more for their health care in 2014 than they would have paid if covered under Medicare.”

And those costs would skyrocket in the following years.

Raising the Medicare age would exert enormous cost pressure on employer health insurance plans, too. That can only lead to three possible outcomes:

1) Profits fall for companies with American jobs, leading to more offshoring/outsourcing and lowering corporate profits.

2) Unemployment rises as employers cut jobs to offset the added expense. It would be worst for 66 and 67-year olds, who will be considered impossibly costly job hires.

3) Health insurance benefits cover even less cost in coming years, as employers offset the cost by demanding higher copays and deductibles and limiting the types of services covered.

The likeliest outcome is some mixture of all three.

Why is Washington seriously considering such a foolish proposal?  Because government spending means less pressure to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. And it means everybody pays the price.

You’ve heard of robbing Peter to pay Paul, haven’t you? You might call this “an appalling robbery to pay Peterson” — Pete Peterson, that is. He’s the billionaire anti-government activist who’s been working to cut Medicare and Social Security – and get lower tax rates for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations – for decades.

Billionaires: Heads they win, tails … well, you know the rest.

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ABOUT Richard (RJ) Eskow

Richard (RJ) Eskow is a well-known blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, an experienced consultant, and a former musician. He has experience in health insurance and economics, occupational health, benefits, risk management, finance, and information technology.

I'm taking down the NAMES of

I'm taking down the NAMES of the Democrats that vote in favor of raising the Medicare eligibility age.

These TRAITORS will never again get my vote! In fact, I'll WORK FOR THEIR OPPONENTS in future primaries/elections!

And I'll make sure future voters are REMINDED who these traitors are.

Get for profit insurance

Get for profit insurance companies out. Health care is too important to allow insurance companies to be n the profit business to shuffle a few papers and deny coverage. I'm not afraid to die but it burns me when they deny treatment that would not only save a life but make the life worth living. They are in bed with big pharma and tell the Dr what drugs he can and cannot use. People worry about death squads, well they are already here and working well under BS/BC with their HMOs that the companies have bought into. Yeah you can go for a PPO if you can afford it but most people can't afford the difference in cost on top of the extra co-pays. In the 50's the rich paid more n taxes and were still very rich. Today they pay less in taxes, create fewer jobs, and the took the money to off shore accounts rather than contribute to the community they benefit from.They profit off of war but don't want to pay for the freedoms bought with the lives of the poor who go into the armed forces.

The rich have usurped more than their fair share of the world's wealth, they themselves produce nothing. Even S Jobs and Bill Gates stole their ideas from another who gave it freely. Edison got most of his ideas from his employees. They say we don't have enough skilled workers but we just don't have enough who are willing to work for peanuts. Medicare will not go broke in 2016 OLDHAT, together we can pull this off. We need a national health plan so that our companies can compete with other countries that have it. How can we compete if our companies have to pay for health and Chinese and the EU companies don't?

The fact of the matter is

The fact of the matter is that many lawmakers are killing Medicare with a far more sinister and less publicized program of cutting the amount that Medicare reimburses to doctors, hospitals, and clinics for providing various medical services to Medicare patients. The number of doctors who no longer accept Medicare patients has become alarmingly high and the ultimate outcome will be the death of Medicare through the absence of any providers rather than any political action to directly terminate the program that carries an enormous risk for politicians and political parties that even consider introducing such legislation. However, as time goes by it’s likely that most seniors will not even notice the end of Medicare as the private insurance industry increasingly establishes it’s substitute for traditional Medicare often referred to as Medi-Gap. This year’s current annual enrollment period for seniors, that ends in a few days, has seen an explosion in the number of these programs introduced by various private insurance companies. These programs are essentially a marriage of traditional Medicare and supplemental insurance for services that Medicare doesn’t pay. Most have no monthly fees and low co-pays for the services they provide and they don’t require that members buy separate supplemental insurance as does Medicare. These plans appear to have no real down side but these are private Capitalist companies running these programs and as in any Capitalist venture, when rising costs inhibit profit a reduction in services offered can be expected. However, in this case doctors, hospitals, and clinics will be compelled to lower their fees and make up the difference by serving a much higher volume of patients. Transitioning to this program will have one distinct benefit with the elimination of most of the corruption endemic in the current Medicare program, private insurance can be much more aggressive toward achieving this end than government agencies that are restricted by political alliances between members of Congress and their local business constituencies !

palsimon's picture

In fact, if it weren't for

In fact, if it weren't for medicare, many hospitals and clinics would go broke. There are not enough rich people who can afford the fees some of these doctors expect, and the number of upper middle class people who can afford private insurance is dwindling as the middle class is going to the poor house too. I challenge you to prove doctors can afford not to serve Medicare patients. Even if they can now, over time they will not be able to do so. Until this economy is set right by returning to good Consumer Protection Laws, the termites of the economy will eat us all up. See here some termintes chomping away at our economy:

One good way to revive the economy and get more taxes to reduce the debt would be legislation to cancel all defaulted consumer debt in the hands of parasitic Wall Street investors. We also need to go back to the old bankruptcy laws that permitted all bank card debt to be cancelled if consumer unable to pay. It would also be helpful to get a Consumer Protection Commission to REALLY protect consumers from people who victimize debtors who have been victimized the bank-created economic decline. Scum bags at work destroying the American economy by economically killing off victims, throwing them into the streets, cheating them, and worse, using our legal system to do it sometimes, and sometimes just sneaking things around the law.

The affordable care act

The affordable care act largest beneficiaries are the health insurance corps. The affordable care act is not what the majority of Americans want. Single payer is the best way to deliver health care to the entire public. That would mean the end of the medical insurance trust which should be abolished if just for the fact that they are profit seeking snakes in the grass as exemplified by the thousands and thousands of clients they have swindled and left to die. The affordable care act is neither.

palsimon's picture



Best "reform" for

Best "reform" for MediCare?

Drop the age requirement altogether. Phase it in one decade at a time, every next year, if not all at once. 55 in 2013, 45 in 2014, etc ..

Why? Because THE main cause of problems funding MediCare is the increase in medical care costs, and THE best way to rein them in is to get private industry OUT of healthcare altogether.

Therefore, the best way to reduce MediCare costs is to make MediCare available to ALL Americans regardless of age.

Where would the funding come from? Slash "defense" spending. The US should try being nice to the rest of the world for a change instead of bullying whomever it chooses. That fundamental change in foreign policy would reap vast savings in the "defense" of America. If everyone liked us, we'd scarcely need a military.

Or .. Congress could USE its power to "coin money" and "regulate the value thereof" .. eliminating altogether the need to borrow money.

And .. btw .. universalizing MediCare would eliminate altogether the need for MediCaid ..


HOW MANY WORKERS DIE BEFORE REACHING THE RETIREMENT AGE NOW SET AT 66.........BOUGHT AND PAID FOR ???? FOR CONGRESS TO ENJOY ???? gee, how many congressmen are already collecting / and non working full time?.?.?.?......too GREEDY / too important to retire ????

rj has better plan let

rj has better plan let medicare go bankrupt in 2016

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