Raising Medicare eligibility would save in some areas, add in others

Raising Medicare’s eligibility from 65 to 67 in 2014 would save the federal government an estimated $7.6 billion, but would also result in an increasing out-of-pocket health care costs for 65 and 66 year olds by $5.6 billion, and cost employers $4.5 billion in retiree health-care costs, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Other key findings from the report:

  • Premiums for people younger than 65 purchasing coverage through health reform’s insurance exchanges would rise by an estimated 3 percent as 65- and 66-year olds are added.    
  • Costs to states would increase by an estimated $0.7 billion overall because of higher state Medicaid costs associated with 65- and 66-year-olds who would have been eligible for both.

The authors conclude that a careful review of the effects on both beneficiaries and stakeholders is warranted before any changes are made. 

(Sources: AHA News Now, http://ahanews.com, March 29, 2011; Kaiser Family Foundation, http://www.kff.org, March 29, 2011)