Raising Medicare premiums will save the government money but could hurt millions of people with Medicare.
Lawmakers are looking for ways to cut down government spending on Medicare. Many of them are proposing that more people with Medicare pay a higher monthly premium. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, if federal law changes, many people with Medicare will pay a lot more each month for their health care.
Today, only a small percentage of people with Medicare pay higher premiums for their medical care (5 percent) and for their drug coverage (4 percent). That’s because right now, only people who earn $85,000 or more and couples who earn $170,000 or more pay higher premiums. Today, you might be surprised to know that half of all people with Medicare have incomes below $23,500 and one in four have incomes below $14,400.
If the new proposals became law, one in four people with Medicare (25 percent) would pay higher premiums for their medical care by 2036, starting at incomes of $45,600 for individuals and $91,300 for couples. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this change would cut federal spending by $56.3 billion dollars in the next ten years starting in 2014.
Asking middle-class Americans to pay more for Medicare than they do today may mean forcing them to go without needed care. People with incomes as low as $45,600 are at risk of not being able to pay these higher premiums, especially if they must spend a lot on health care that Medicare does not cover. Even today, if they have high health care costs or other costly needs, they often struggle to afford care that Medicare does not cover.
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