450,000 Seniors Would Lose Coverage Under Medicare Eligibility Age Increase
The ferocious pushback on a trial balloon offer to raise the Medicare eligibility age continues, now at a very high level. First, adding to something started over the weekend by the Center for American Progress’ Neera Tanden, the think tank put out a white paper rejecting raising the eligibility age, because it would “harm seniors and increase health care spending.” I don’t think you have to say much more than that. But here’s the key point:
Using 2011 census data to add to existing Congressional Budget Office calculations, we estimate that in a single year, almost 435,000 seniors would be at risk of becoming uninsured. Our estimate is conservative and understates the impact of raising the eligibility age because the number of seniors affected will only continue to grow over the next decade as the boomer generation retires.
They fully explain the methodology for arriving at this number in the report. Consider that we know that certain percentages of the uninsured die from lack of coverage. The American Journal of Public Health study most frequently cited shows 45,000 deaths annually from a lack of coverage. That’s in a pool of around 50 million uninsured, or a little less than 1%. So this plan to raise the eligibility age, based on those numbers, would kill as many as 4,000 senior Americans, every year (maybe more, as this is a sicker population). I’m sorry to be crass about this, but those are the stakes.
In addition to CAP, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi published her own opposition to raising the eligibility age in USA Today.