Why Raising the Medicare Age Would Be a Step Backward

February 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm

On PBS’s “Need to Know” last week I participated in a panel discussion on how to preserve Medicare over the long term in the face of an aging population and rising health care costs.  In this exchange with host Ray Suarez, I explained why one proposal — raising the eligibility age to 67 — would raise costs, not reduce them:

RAY SUAREZ:  Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 would save the federal government, by some estimates, $148 billion through 2022.  Paul, that’s just the kind of question you’ve studied throughout your career, when you change a requirement like that, what the overall effect on the cost is.  Is it part of the answer?

PAUL VAN DE WATER:  No, it’s not part of the answer.  Not only would raising the age of eligibility for Medicare shift costs from the federal government to states, to individuals, but it would also actually increase total health care spending.  The Kaiser Family Foundation did a thorough analysis of this proposal not too long ago.  And it showed that the total increase in health care costs to the health care system overall from raising the Medicare eligibility age would be twice the savings to the federal government.  And that’s because Medicare is a relatively efficient program compared to other sources of insurance.

For more detail on the impact of raising the Medicare age, see our report, which includes this graph based on the Kaiser study.

For a transcript of last week’s discussion, click here.

Print Friendly

More About Paul N. Van de Water

Paul N. Van de Water

Paul N. Van de Water is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he specializes in Medicare, Social Security, and health coverage issues.

Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at CBPP.org

Your Comment

Comment Policy:

Thank you for joining the conversation about important policy issues. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters and are subject to approval and moderation. We reserve the right to remove comments that:

  • are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate;
  • contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs;
  • solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites or to sell products or services;
  • may infringe the copyright or intellectual property rights of others or other applicable laws or regulations; or
  • are otherwise inconsistent with the goals of this blog.

Posted comments do not necessarily represent the views of the CBPP and do not constitute official endorsement by CBPP. Please note that comments will be approved during the Center's business hours. If you have questions, please contact communications@cbpp.org.

two − 1 =

 characters available