CBO: Raising Medicare Eligibility Age Would Save $148B Over Decade
Gradually raising Medicare's eligibility age from 65 to 67 would save the federal government about $148 billion over a decade, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The savings would come in part by shifting costs to elderly U.S. residents (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/10).
The report estimates the effect of increasing the eligibility age by two months annually starting in 2014 for people born in 1949, until the eligibility age reaches 67 in 2027 for people born in 1960. The increase would trim federal spending on Medicare by about 5% by 2035, according to CBO (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 1/10).
Of the 5.4 million people who would be affected by the increased eligibility age in 2021, "about 5% would become uninsured, and approximately half of the group would obtain insurance from their spouses' employers or former employers," CBO said.
The remaining 2.3 million individuals would be forced into Medicaid, receive Medicare disability benefits or buy coverage through state insurance exchanges under the federal health reform law. The report stated that "many more people would become uninsured" if the health reform law was not in place (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/10).
Possible Effects of Report
According to National Journal, the report is the most detailed analysis to date of the potential effect of increasing the Medicare eligibility age and could lend credence to lawmakers who have considered the option as a way to address the federal deficit.
The savings also could offset the cost of reforming the sustainable growth rate formula, which sets Medicare physician payment rates, National Journal reports (McCarthy/O'Donnell, National Journal, 1/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.