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CBO: Raising Medicare eligibility age increases revenue, leaves people without insurance

January 12, 2012
by Kevin Kolus
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Raising the eligibility age for Medicare would reduce federal spending and increase revenues, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report. But raising the eligibility age would also cause many to face higher premiums for health insurance, higher out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, or both.

The CBO estimates that if the Medicare eligibility age, currently 65, was raised to 67, annual federal spending on Medicare would be reduced by $148 billion from 2012 through 2021. By 2035, Medicare’s net spending would be about 5 percent below what it otherwise would be—4.7 percent of GDP rather than 5.0 percent under current law, according to the report.

Raising the age could also affect the healthcare people who otherwise would have been Medicare beneficiaries receive, and what they pay for that healthcare, the CBO noted.

“Some people would end up without health insurance,” the report read. “People without health insurance are likely to receive lower quality care and pay more than insured people do.”

“The quality of healthcare could differ as well, in various ways,” the CBO report continued. “For example, people with private health insurance might have better access to physicians than they would under Medicare. Some people on Medicaid could have more difficulty obtaining services, but others could have access to healthcare with lower out-of-pocket costs than they would have under Medicare.”

Click here to read the full CBO report (PDF format).

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