Elder law attorneys pay close attention to potential legislative changes that impact senior citizens, and there is something major brewing at the present time. If this proposed change becomes a reality, many older Americans will celebrate.
The Medicare program was originally established in 1966, and the eligibility age has been 65 every step of the way. We should point out the fact that you do not automatically qualify for Medicare when you reach this age.
When you work and pay self-employment or payroll taxes, you earn retirement credits. In 2021, you get one credit for every $1470 that you earn, and you can accumulate a maximum of four credits each year. After you have 40 credits, you will qualify for Medicare.
There are some out-of-pocket expenses, but they are minimal compared to private insurance. There is no monthly premium for the hospitalization portion, and there is a modest $1484 deductible with zero coinsurance for the first 60 days.
Part B is the component that covers treatments that are provided by doctors and other health care professionals. There is a monthly premium for this coverage, and it stands at $148.50 for most people, but individuals in higher income brackets will pay more.
The deductible is just $203, but you have to pay 20 percent of the covered expenses out of your own pocket. You can use Part C to purchase a Medicare advantage plan from a private insurer, and there are premiums, co-payments, and deductibles for the prescription drug portion.
President Joe Biden has stated that he wants the eligibility age to be reduced to 60, and this would make a big difference in the lives of many older Americans. There are those that are completely uninsured, and private health insurance is quite expensive for older folks.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), someone that is 60 years old that earns $51,000 per year can expect to pay just over $4400 annually for a silver plan purchased through an Affordable Care Act exchange.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been unwavering in his call for “Medicare for all,” but for now, he is pushing for Medicare for more. He is proposing a reduction in the eligibility age to 50, and he wants Medicare to start covering dental and vision care.
Since Sanders is aiming for this rather large expansion, a decrease of some kind may be offered by the anti-expansion legislators as a compromise.
Rare Concurrence Among Voters
Another KFF study found that Americans from both sides of the political spectrum share common ground on this issue. Just under 70 percent of Republicans are in favor of reducing the eligibility age to as low as 50, and 85 percent of Democrats agree with them.
It is difficult for lawmakers to defy the will of the public, and Medicare has always been a very popular program that is somewhat of a sacred cow in political circles. Time will tell, but there is reason to believe that there could be some type of reduction.
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