Changing age for Medicare could save $113 billion but leave seniors to fend for themself

Published: Friday, Jan. 11 2013 11:50 a.m. MST

Ted Meeker and his wife Janice have many health problems, but because of their health care insurance they are covered; otherwise it would have been too expensive with just Medicare.

Chen Wang, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Changing the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67 could save Americans $113 billion over 10 years, but some say there are better ways to cut costs, according to a Bloomberg article.

In addition to saving money, moving the age would encourage Americans to retire later. It would, however, create some difficulties for 65 to 66 year olds and their employers.

“The greater ambition is a humane, effective and efficient health-care system — public and private, subsidized and not. Any changes to Medicare should endeavor to bring the U.S. closer to this goal,” the writers of the editorial board said in the article.

Changing would make this group pay for its own health insurance. The cost is typically more expensive than Medicare, making the net effect more expensive for health care.

Rather than changing age eligibility, President Barack Obama proposed Medicare could save by not overpaying hospitals for medical residencies. Raising premiums charged to higher-income beneficiaries could save $28 billion.

If drug makers were required to have Medicaid-level rebates for medicines for those who also qualify for Medicaid, $135 billion could be saved.

There are four other proposals along with changing age eligibility that were most popular in 2012. Combining the two-part insurances and creating a single deductible could place a limit on out-of-pocket costs to users, according to an article with WPS Health Insurance.

Other suggestions include increasing copayments on certain services like home health care, offering premium support options and cutting payments in doctors' reimbursements.

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