Reducing Medicare Age Limit Would Be Costly

In his run for the White House, Joe Biden made a vow to cut the qualifying age for Medicare from 65 to 60 if he were elected president.

So far, Democrats in Congress have picked up the cause. Yet, they have been unable to move any significant Medicare reform legislation through Congress.

Budget Deficit

That is a positive development. Consider a report just released by the Congressional Budget Office this month to comprehend the rationale for this.

According to the findings of the CBO, bringing the qualifying age of Medicare down to 60 would result in an increase of 7.3 million people enrolled in the program.

It will also lead to a rise of $155 billion in the federal budget deficit between the years 2026 and 2031. 

The welfare program for healthcare hardly has enough money to cover the people already enrolled in it.

According to the CBO’s projections, the hospital insurance trust fund for Medicare Part A will deplete its assets by the year 2030. The trustees of Medicare estimate the program will become bankrupt even sooner in the year 2026. 

Because of the way Medicare is organized, expanding coverage for dentistry, vision, and hearing would have minimal effect on the Medicare trust fund.

This is projected to become bankrupt beginning in the year 2026. 

According to David Lipschutz, assistant director and senior legal attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, “we’re basically talking about distinct sources of money.” 

There are approximately 62.8 million people who receive benefits from Medicare, the vast majority of whom are at least 65 years old.

That is the age at which the majority of American citizens are required to enroll, unless they meet one of the exclusion criteria.

Income and the Uninsured

In the interest of enrolling millions of the elderly who are disparately well-off and already have healthcare coverage, lowering the eligibility age for Medicare will only expedite its financial demise.

This is being done in the name of saving the program. 

Individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 have higher median incomes than the typical American, which is approximately $59,000 per year.

This is due to the fact that individuals in this age range are typically in more advanced stages of their careers. People ages 45 to 54 are the only ones who make more money overall. 

In addition, the uninsured rate for Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 is the lowest of any age group that does not include the elderly, coming in at just under nine percent. Almost two-thirds of people are enrolled in plans that are sponsored by their employers. 

If Medicare were expanded, it would mean that individuals’ private health insurance would be replaced with publicly funded coverage.

According to the findings of the CBO analysis, if the qualifying age for Medicare were lowered to 60 years old, there would be 3.2 million fewer persons with employment-based insurance. 

In the meantime, increasing the eligibility age for Medicare to 60 would only bring the number of uninsured people down by 400,000. 

In other words, decreasing the age at which one is eligible for Medicare will not materially reduce the number of people who do not have health insurance.

However, it would make a big difference in how many people have public health insurance and bring the country one step closer to a single-payer healthcare system.