Report: Raising Medicare Age Would Increase Insurance Costs by $2K
Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 -- as some lawmakers have proposed as part of a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff -- would increase insurance costs for individuals age 65 and older by $2,000, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Faler/Wayne, Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/6).
According to the Los Angeles Times, raising the eligibility age for the program is among the leading proposals being considered to curb Medicare spending, as part of a larger deal to avoid the looming mandated spending cuts under sequestration (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 12/7).
According to Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Affordable Care Act has made raising the eligibility age a viable option by creating health insurance exchanges that would provide U.S. residents ages 65 and 66 with an alternate source of coverage.
However, critics of the proposal say that although it would reduce Medicare spending, it would redirect those costs to other government and private health plans (Faler/Wayne, Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/6).
Indeed, the study found that raising the eligibility age would increase national spending on health care by raising the age of populations in every insurance pool, including employer-based coverage, private insurance, Medicaid and those remaining in Medicare (Sanger-Katz, National Journal, 12/6).
Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, said, "It doesn't mean costs will go away. It'll be someone else's problem."
Further, the study noted that the proposal would eliminate many of Medicare's least-costly beneficiaries without addressing more costly beneficiaries. According to the study, Medicare in 2006 spent an average of $5,887 on beneficiaries between ages 65 and 75, while spending $12,059 on average on beneficiaries age 85 and older (Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/6).
Public Support for Medicare Reductions Dwindles
The poll -- which surveyed 1,002 individuals age 18 and older between Nov. 29 and Dec. 3 -- found 48% of respondents opposed gradually raising the eligibility age for Medicare, with individuals ages 30 to 64 reporting the strongest opposition. The poll found 40% of respondents supported a gradual increase (Agiesta/Fram, AP/Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/6).Meanwhile, a separate poll conducted by Quinnipiac University and released Thursday found that 51% of individuals do not support raising the Medicare eligibility age, while 44% favor such a plan. The survey, which involved 1,949 registered voters between Nov. 28 and Dec. 3, also showed that 70% of voters oppose reducing Medicaid spending, while 25% supported such cuts (Glueck, Politico, 12/6). 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.