Study cites ripple effect of Medicare delay
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers and even some younger people would pay more for health insurance if lawmakers raise the eligibility age for Medicare, a study being released today concludes.
The report from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that federal taxpayers would save billions if the Medicare eligibility age, currently 65, is increased by two years. But people ages 65 and 66, employers — along with states, Medicare recipients and even some younger families — would see ripple effects that add to their costs.
“There are so many moving parts in a program as big as Medicare that it’s difficult to make changes without having ripple effects for others,” said Tricia Neuman, Kaiser’s leading Medicare expert. The foundation is an information clearinghouse for the health care system.
The study assumed that President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul remains in place, and doesn’t get overturned by the courts or repealed by Congress.
Among the report’s findings:
- Most 65- and 66-year-olds would pay significantly more for their health care because they would not be in Medicare. If the Medicare age was raised to 67 in 2014, about three out of four people ages 65 to 66 would pay $2,400 more, on average. The rest would be eligible for various kinds of subsidies for low-to-moderate income people provided under the health care law.
- Employers would pay an estimated $4.5 billion more for health insurance in 2014, because older workers would stay on the job longer to remain eligible for their company’s coverage.
- People younger than 30 buying coverage in new health insurance markets that open for business in 2014 would see their premiums rise nearly 8 percent over previous projections. An influx of older adults no longer eligible for Medicare would raise costs for that pool.
- States would face somewhat higher costs because some low-income people currently eligible for Medicare and Medicaid would be left with Medicaid only.
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