Take Raising Medicare Eligibility Age Off the Table, Please
The ink isn't even dry yet on the horrid compromise budget bill which was supposed to shield Medicare beneficiaries, but already there's renewed talk of raising the eligibility age for Medicare, which now likely will happen since Obama has already said it's okay with him. It will probably be one of the first things the gang of 12 congressional henchman will agree on.
The Wall St. Journal today: [More...]
Health-industry lobbyists and policy experts say Sunday's deal between the White House and congressional leaders effectively opens the door to another round of talks in which lawmakers are likely to weigh increasing the Medicare eligibility age and setting up a means test that might require wealthier people to pay more for the program.
....To hit the $1.5 trillion in spending cuts, the congressional committee is likely to reconsider major changes to Medicare that the White House and congressional leaders put on the table during this summer's debt-ceiling negotiations. President Barack Obama in earlier negotiations floated the idea of raising the Medicare-eligibility age to 67 from 65 in an effort to win Republican concessions. He also said he was open to a means test.
"Raising Medicare’s age of eligibility would obviously reduce Medicare spending, but would also shift costs onto seniors and employers, and increase costs elsewhere on the federal ledger," said Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President Tricia Neuman, who leads the new Kaiser Project on Medicare’s Future.
.... Raising Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 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, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation projection of the potential change suggested by several deficit-reduction plans. The study also estimates that the change in Medicare eligibility would raise premiums by 3 percent for those who remain on Medicare and for those who obtain coverage through health reform’s new insurance exchanges. The study assumes both full implementation of the health reform law and the higher eligibility age in 2014 in order to estimate the full effect of both the law and the policy proposal.
Not to mention our disability policies end at 65, so for 2 years, from 65 to 67, if we get disabled, we better have good private health insurance -- which at our age costs $1,000 to $1,500 a month -- for a high-deductible policy. Any chance the disability insurance companies will offer to extend our policies another two years to match the new Medicare eligibility age? I didn't think so.
Social Security sends you a statement every year stating how much you have paid over your lifetime in Social Security and Medicare taxes.
How much have you paid? If you are not self-employed, you've paid 6.2 % of your salary up to $106,800 in social security taxes every year, and 1.45 % in Medicare taxes, with no limit.
If you are self-employed, you pay double -- the combined employer and employee amount -- 12.4% of your earnings for Social Security (up to the $106,800 limit) and 2.9% of your net earnings (with no limit) for Medicare -- a whopping 15.3% -- in addition to federal and state income taxes and a host of local taxes. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars over a working adult life.
What's the answer? How do we protect ourselves? Maybe I'll increase my business overhead by buying new computers and fun high tech gadgets, or get a bigger office, or travel to every continuing legal education seminar I can find in cities I want to visit, staying at 5 star hotels, so that my taxable income is so low Medicare and Social Security get virtually nothing from me in the future. It's tempting. Why not spend the money on things I enjoy if the Government is going to renege on its promise after I've paid in for 45 plus years?
Maybe I'll visit more doctors. Shrinks are expensive, but deductible, which again would lower the amount of income on which the Medicare and Social Security tax is based. We could all probably benefit from a little psychotherapy.
Maybe I'll take social security early, before the cuts go into effect. The cuts will probably result in the amount we get at 66 being the same as we get now for age 62.
I'll probably do none of the above, but I really object to forking over 15% of my net income (in addition to federal, state and local taxes) for the next several years, to get bupkis in return.
Raising the age of medicare elibibility won't save the Government money in the long run due to the huge numbers of 65 and 66 year olds who will shift to Medicaid. It will break the backs of small businesses providing health care to elderly workers. It will force middle class, elderly workers who don't have employer-paid health care to pay premiums of ten thousand dollars a year or more for the extra two more years, on top of hefty deductibles and out of pocket costs.
The gang of henchman is at our door. We can't stop them, but Obama can. If Obama doesn't put his foot down on this, he doesn't deserve a second term as Democratic President. Let him run as as Republican or go home to Chicago. He will have sold us out once too often.
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