Monday 17 December 2012

A simple way to save Medicare

In the current negotiations on the so-called Fiscal Cliff, one proposed change is to raise the minimum age for Medicare from 65 to 67. This turns out to be a bad idea, because it increases rather than decreases the amount spent on health care, and would be a cruel joke on 65 year old retirees who suddenly found that they had no Medicare and no employer insurance. So let's think outside the box for a minute. Rather than changing the minimum age for Medicare, let's change the maximum age to 85.

This is a much better idea for several reasons.

  • Financial: Kicking 65 and 66 year olds out of Medicare won't save much money, because they are the youngest and relatively healthiest of retirees. But kicking the oldest people out will save a bundle, because the older they get, the more expensive their health care is, with the largest chunk in the last year of life. Even though there are far fewer over-85s than 65-66's, the over 85s take a larger share of the Medicare budget. So we can save more money while affecting fewer people. Already, a win!
  • Statistical: According to the CDC, the life expectancy at birth for Americans is 78.5 years. This means that, on average, when an American turns 85, he or she will already have been dead for six and a half years. So for a majority of Americans, they'll never even notice this change.
  • Equity: As we all know, the U.S. is a uniquely individualistic society, where we encourage and reward self-reliance. Simple arithmetic tells us that by the time a senior reaches 85, he or she will have been receiving Medicare benefits for two full decades, five times longer than we allow people to stay on other entitlement programs like welfare. Enough is enough,  twenty years is surely enough time to learn to be medically self reliant. 
This is just a sketch, but I'm sure the overwhelming logic of this simple money-saving plan is clear. Contact your elected representatives today and let them know how you feel about it.

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