Southern Brooklyn

Medicare: Raise The Age?

A scene from the 1973 apocalyptic horror film, “Soylent Green.” Source: Black Hole Reviews

Telling Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.

There’s been a lot of talk about Medicare over the past several weeks, and the overall grim news about its financial solvency is true. No plan to make reforms to it will affect anyone who is presently collecting, or who is more than 55 years-old. We all know, however, that something has to be done. I tell my in-laws, who are in their 80s, that if they are still on Medicare in 2022, that we are going to institute a ‘Soylent Green’ program ( a 1973 movie, which solved a food shortage by ‘recycling’ older people into food.)

One plan is to raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67. According to one poll, 52 percent are in favor of the increase, whereas 48 percent are not.

Now that people are living longer, and starting second careers when retiring from the first, they have access to employer-sponsored medical insurance, so public support is not required. Others say that raising the age would be unfair to the poor, and would increase the numbers of who could not afford insurance, and would cost the taxpayer more in the long-run.

Here Are Some Thoughts:

  • Medicare was supposed to be a ‘safety-net’ only and, in fact, the eligibility age should be based upon the average life expectancy, which is now closer to 75 or 80.
  • Restrict Medicare to only US citizens, and only to those who have worked 15 or 20 years in the U.S. and paid into the system. Those who are here, but who chose not to become citizens, should not be entitled to this benefit. The law allowing only a five-year residency should be changed.
  • Expand the program to younger people by allowing them to buy-in. This will increase the healthier participants, and add much-needed revenue.
  • Privatize Medicare to allow insurance companies to bid on coverage. There would be a basic basket to which additional coverage could be added, such as long-term care, home care, annual checkups and flu shots, etc.
  • Offer citizens a rebate if they buy their own insurance — for example, 50 percent up to a maximum.
  • Allow all Americans the same insurance coverage as members of Congress and other federal employees, retirees and their families, which includes about 300 different private health care plans, including five government-wide, fee-for-service plans plus various HMOs, and high-deductible and tax-advantaged plans. And no subsidies for the Congressmen (Blue Cross, $1,327/month of which they pay only $430.)
  • Delay benefits and increase co-pays for the first five years, and make Medicare a means test.
  • Adjust the Medicare premium annually based upon the prior year, or second prior year, cost.

What do you think?

Have a good week.

Quip: How did Congress get its name? According to the Urban Dictionary, a Baboon is the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not… a Congress!

Joseph Reisman, of Joseph S. Reisman & Associates, has been serving tax prep and business accounting expertise from his Coney Island Avenue office for more than 25 years. Check out the firm’s website.