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The Politics of Health Care

Carefully Weighing the Effect of Raising the Medicare Age Requirement

Published December 4, 2012 11:36 AM by Michael LaMagna
Medicare, the primary insurer for those who are over 65 or disabled, is going through some serious challenges at the moment. The Medicare trust, which is the money withheld through the Medicare payroll tax, is slated to become insolvent at some point between 2016 and 2024. This fact, coupled with the upcoming Fiscal Cliff, has politicians scrambling for ideas to save money and keep Medicare solvent. The latest idea is to increase the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 years of age to 67.

The premise is that if you increase the age by 2 years, the 3.3 million individuals who would be disqualified would be required to either: 1) pay for coverage out of pocket; 2) go without insurance and pay a fine; 3) rely on employer sponsored insurance; or 4) rely on Medicaid. The proposed result would be a total savings of $5.7 billion; however it is projected to cost the entire healthcare system $11.4 billion dollars in spending.

The spending costs include the cost of seniors paying for replacement plans, fines and costs to employers. The question remains to be seen whether raising the eligibility age would simply shift the costs from the Federal government, who pays for Medicare, to the individuals and ultimately the states (Medicaid costs).

Now, I am not suggesting that raising the age isn't a viable solution; however, I am calling on Washington to carefully consider all of the ramifications of changing the system and ensuring the states will be able to withstand the impact.

Your comments are always appreciated.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article shall be construed as legal advice or should be relied upon as such. Michael LaMagna is a partner at The Law Office of Michael LaMagna, LLC, practicing Health Care Regulatory, Elder /Probate/Disability/Trusts and Estates, Social Security and General Legal practice in both New York and Connecticut. Email him at Mlamagna@nyandctlaw.com, call him at 914-534-1048 or visit Attorney LaMagna's website at www.nyandctlaw.com for more information.

posted by Michael LaMagna

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