MEDICARE ELIGIBILITY: Age Increase Would Up Uninsured
Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 would increase the number of uninsured Americans "by at least 800,000," according to a study in the special Medicare issue of Health Affairs. Columbia University's Sherry Glied and Mark Stabile write: "Implausibly large increases in employment would be needed to offset the expected declines in coverage." They note that the increase would occur even if 50% of those between ages 65 and 67 keep working -- a number they call "implausibly high" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 1/12). The authors conclude that "both the number and the percentage of older Americans who lack private insurance coverage are likely to rise over the next decade," and that "[t]his problem is likely to become even more severe over time because rates of employer- sponsored health insurance coverage among baby boomers have been declining steadily over the past fifteen years." As a result, "raising the age of eligibility for Medicare ... is likely to leave a large number of older Americans without private coverage." They also note that a Medicare buy-in for seniors in the 64-67 age range "is unlikely to make a significant dent in the number of near-elderly uninsured persons" because those most likely to need coverage will be those least able to afford it (1- 2/1999 issue).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.