Debate Club

Raise the Social Security Age, Not the Medicare Age

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House Republicans want to raise the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67 as part of a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. It's a foolish idea that merely shifts costs from the federal government onto individuals, private employers, and state and local governments. Actually it's worse: Total costs will also rise because commercial insurance companies pay more for the same services than Medicare does. And raising the Medicare eligibility age does nothing to improve incentives or add efficiency.

(As a side note, it's also a curious proposal coming from the GOP so soon after an election when they presented themselves as better defenders of Medicare than the Democrats.)

[See a collection of political cartoons on the fiscal cliff.]

If the goal is to tweak age eligibility, it would be wiser to raise the age for Social Security eligibility instead. Raising the age for Social Security benefits to 67 would provide an incentive for seniors to remain in the workforce, thus promoting economic growth and broadening the tax base—which are completely consistent with the Republican platform and common sense. Keeping people working will also extend the solvency of Social Security and Medicare, thanks to the payroll taxes that are deducted from earnings, and will increase consumer spending because workers spend more than retirees.

Sixty-six year olds need health insurance whether or not they are working. So if Medicare isn't there for them the cost will have to be borne by someone else. But gainfully employed people have no need to rely on Social Security checks. In fact they contribute to the long-term health of Medicare and Social Security, help narrow the federal budget deficit, and boost economic growth. Keeping the Medicare age at 65 and raising the Social Security age to 67 would also make it easier for companies to employ seniors since employers would not have to pay for their health insurance.

David E. Williams

About David E. Williams Cofounder of MedPharma Partners LLC,

Tags
Medicare
fiscal cliff
health care
deficit and national debt

Other Arguments

#1
104 Pts
Raising Medicare Age Will Increase Cost for People of All Ages

No – Raising Medicare Age Will Increase Cost for People of All Ages

Debra Whitman AARP Executive Vice President for Policy and International

#3
39 Pts
Boehner's Medicare Proposal Is Sleight of Hand, Not Cost Control

No – Boehner's Medicare Proposal Is Sleight of Hand, Not Cost Control

Ethan Rome Executive Director of Health Care for America Now

#5
-24 Pts
Raising Medicare Eligibility a First Step Towards Deficit Reduction

Yes – Raising Medicare Eligibility a First Step Towards Deficit Reduction

James Capretta Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

#6
-35 Pts
We Should Encourage Americans to Keep Working, Not Retire

Yes – We Should Encourage Americans to Keep Working, Not Retire

Robert Moffit Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation

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