Raising Medicare age to 67: Not a great idea

House Republicans are suggesting raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 as part of a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. It’s not a particularly good idea because it just shifts costs from the federal government onto individuals, state and federal government employers and private employers. Not only that, but total health care costs are likely to rise, since Medicare is fairly cost-effective compared to alternatives. It doesn’t do anything that I can see to improve incentives or take costs out of the system.

Also, in case you were still wondering about whether the GOP was a bigger defender of Medicare than Democrats (as Romney & Co. tried to argue) you can now lay your doubts to rest.

I’d rather see the age for Social Security eligibility go up, while leaving the Medicare age alone. Doing so would provide an incentive for people to stay in the workforce, thus increasing economic activity, and would broaden the base for the Social Security taxes that fund the program. Come to think of it, this would make Medicare more solvent too, since payroll taxes include a portion that partially pays for Medicare.


December 4, 2012

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