January 20, 2020

Who Benefits From Medicare? In Some Way, Just About Everyone.

Medicare is often at the forefront of national discourse.  However, much of the discussion tends to ignore young Americans under the assumption that they are not affected by, or do not care about Medicare’s  future and the impact of Medicare in their communities. The data suggests otherwise.  More than 10 million young Americans are family caregivers and their loved ones likely depend on Medicare for medical and financial security.  Given that the Medicare program already plays a critical role in the lives of families nationwide, many young Americans understand they are affected by Medicare long before they themselves reach old age.

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and disabled family members of young Americans depend on Medicare, or will soon.  Medicare has grown into the popular community program it is today because it provides families with peace of mind.  Approximately 59 million people have Medicare coverage and most young Americans have family members who are 65 or older and currently rely on the program for low-cost health insurance and financial protection.  Without Medicare, many families would be unable to afford health care, doctor visits, or obtain their necessary prescription drugs

It is also important to remember that Medicare is not just for seniors.  The program provides more than nine million Americans under 65, who are disabled or have severe chronic conditions, with life saving access to care that they need.

No, Medicare is NOT going broke.   Washington policymakers frequently attempt to justify dangerous cuts to Medicare by claiming it is “insolvent.” Medicare is NOT broke, going bankrupt, or running out of funds.  In fact, the Medicare Trustees Report shows Medicare is currently fully funded to pay our expected costs until 2026 when it will still be able to pay 91% of Medicare hospital insurance costs. That shortfall can be mitigated if legislation to lower prescription drug costs are passed.

While it is projected that Medicare spending will rise as a percentage of the budget, this is due in part to the Baby Boomer population aging on to Medicare and the recent repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which was designed to lower costs.

In spite of the individual mandate’s repeal, however Medicare provisions in the Affordable Care Act have improved  the program’s economic outlook, extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund eight years longer than before the Affordable Care Act was put in place.

Medicare should not be used as a scapegoat to avoid the underlying problem: the country’s high overall health care costs.  Overall health care expenses per capita in the United States are higher than in any country, and these expenditures show no signs of slowing.  What is needed are constructive solutions that address overall health costs and strengthen Medicare, not proposals that threaten to weaken the program and harm families.  Tampering with Medicare puts the health and financial futures of young Americans and their families at risk.

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