5.26.21 / Updates

The Facts About Opening Up Medicare To Younger Americans

WASHINGTON – As some politicians consider opening seniors’ Medicare up to younger Americans, evidence continues to show the one-size-fits-all proposal could have consequences such as unaffordable costs and reduced access to high-quality health care. At the same time, research continues to indicate that an enhanced Affordable Care Act (ACA) model is an effective way to expand access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care.

“Medicare At 60” Could Increase Costs For Taxpayers And/Or Bankrupt The Medicare Program:

  • Lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60 “would shift costs to taxpayers and increase Medicare program expenditures overall.” (Kaiser Family Foundation, 4/27/21)
  • With Medicare’s trustees already warning the program is at risk for today’s seniors and its Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund projected to be depleted by 2026 under current law, implementing “Medicare at 60” in 2022 would “hasten the depletion of the trust fund” and could cause its bankruptcy by 2024, two years sooner than currently projected. (Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D., Tom Church and Daniel L. Heil, 4/27/21)

“Medicare At 60” Could Threaten Access To High-Quality Health Care:

  • Opening Medicare up to younger Americans “would likely lead to lower revenues for hospitals, physicians, and providers who deliver care to older adults who choose Medicare over employer coverage.” (Kaiser Family Foundation, 4/27/21)
  • Unsustainable reimbursement cuts could cause hospital closures and jeopardize the care patients depend on – especially in rural and underserved communities, where providers often operate on tight margins and where many hospitals already face the threat of closure. A “lower eligibility age would also create new challenges for doctors and hospitals. Medicare underpays providers significantly, reimbursing hospitals just 87 cents for every dollar of care they deliver. These paltry reimbursement rates stress the finances of providers” and lowering Medicare’s eligibility age could “force some providers to close up shop.” (“Sanders Proposal Brings Medicare Closer To The Brink Of Collapse,” Sally Pipes, Forbes, 4/12/21)

Enhancements To The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Are Already Providing More Affordable Coverage Options:

  • “…[P]remiums for the Obama-era Affordable Care Act have come way down recently due to Biden’s COVID relief bill. That’s made the ACA more attractive for older adults who haven’t reached Medicare’s eligibility age of 65.” (“Medicare For 60-Year-Olds Not Guaranteed To Be A Better Deal,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press, 5/19/21)
  • “’Simply expanding Medicare as it is to younger people does not always mean those patients are getting a better deal,’ said Chris Sloan, an industry analyst at Avalere. ‘The things that the Biden administration has done to increase the Obamacare subsidies [through] 2022 have made it really affordable.’” (“Medicare For 60-Year-Olds Not Guaranteed To Be A Better Deal,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press, 5/19/21; Avalere, 5/19/21)
  • “…[M]any older adults with low to modest incomes can already find cheaper premiums in Obamacare’s markets…” (“Medicare For 60-Year-Olds Not Guaranteed To Be A Better Deal,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press, 5/19/21)

Research Indicates That Extending ACA Enhancements Is An Effective Way Of Expanding Access To Affordable, High-Quality Health Coverage & Care:

  • The number of uninsured Americans would fall significantly under an enhanced Affordable Care Act (ACA) model, with roughly 8.1 million (30 percent) and 9.6 million (34 percent) fewer Americans uninsured after ACA enhancements in 2023 and 2032, respectively. (KNG Health Consulting, 5/17/21)

Extending ACA Enhancements Has Broad Support:

  • Extending ACA enhancements is “an idea that enjoys broad support (POLITICO, 4/28/21)
  • The 94-member New Democrat Coalition recently sent a letter to President Biden urging him to work with Congress to “permanently expand new subsidies passed as part of the most recent Covid aid package.”
  • Thirty more Democrats are separately pressing the President to make expanded Obamacare subsidies permanent. 
  • “[President] Biden is asking Congress to permanently extend the more generous financial assistance that has brought down the cost of Obamacare premiums.” (“Medicare For 60-Year-Olds Not Guaranteed To Be A Better Deal,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press, 5/19/21)

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