GOP’s next act in health reform? Higher Medicare eligibility age and vouchers

President Donald Trump has vowed repeatedly that he “wouldn’t touch” Medicare or Social Security, but someone forgot to tell House Republicans.

While U.S. senators debate the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week, their colleagues in the House are preparing for the Republicans’ next big move on health reform. A 2018 budget resolution that the House Budget Committee approved last week calls for major Medicare reforms, along with some changes to Social Security. The most dramatic changes would raise Medicare’s eligibility age, and shift the program to a flat premium-support payment, or voucher, that beneficiaries would use to help buy either private health insurance or a form of traditional Medicare.

The budget recommends raising the Medicare eligibility age – gradually – from 65 to 67. Conservative policy experts have been calling for this shift for years, arguing it is needed to protect Medicare’s solvency in light of rising American longevity.

The Heritage Foundation, for example, has proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to “at least 68” over a period of 10 years, and then indexing it further to life expectancy.

Average longevity is rising – according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013, men could expect another 17.9 years of life, up from 14.1 years in 1980; women could expect another 20.5 years, up from 18.3 years in 1980.

But the recent longevity gains are not spread evenly across the U.S. population, so higher eligibility ages would hit some people harder than others in terms of lost years of Medicare coverage. Along with the gender gap, other factors playing important roles in determining longevity are income, educational attainment and race.

And left unanswered is this question: where will these folks get health insurance while they contemplate the blessings of longer lifespans?

Learn more at Reuters Money.


  1. Stan Erdberg says:

    This proposal is ludicrous and dangerous. Medicare has been a savior for poor and middle class Americans. My mother would have died at least 10 years earlier without the protection afforded by Medicare.

    You want to make Medicare solvent? Increase the Medicare tax on individuals making more than $100,000 a year and really prosecute Medicare fraud which is rampant throughout the nation. Shoe you care about the average and struggling American people. Bury this mean proposal?

  2. I am NOT a politician so my comments may NOT be politically correct OR practical. This medicare challenge is wrapped up with Social Security. For a real nonpolitical solution, both funds MUST be made safe. The solution that is available economically would be to change the up front fees for both. I am a non social security retiree as allowed under the original social security statute when originally passed. I paid 8.6% not the current 7.2% into the non social security system. The employer matched with an additional amont and my retirement AND medicare replacement is superb. A full description is not possible in this space BUT can be done. Unfortunately we have to rely on politicians and not economist like myself. Regrets, Richard Ray Shreve, Ph.D.

  3. Dr. , could you please elaborate on how you opted out ,what is the law or statute which allowed this? And what is the non social security system you did pay into?

  4. Barbara Mitchell says:

    The Republicans can’t even repeal the onerous individual mandate in Obamacare. They can’t possibly make any changes to medicare. It will never pass. Trump would veto it anyway. Don’t waste your space on this. Won’t happen anytime soon.

  5. Walt Dunn says:

    I am a 73 year old straight commission salesman and am probably going to retire next year. I feel sorry for the younger people that are going to have to work longer, but I was able to sell more after 65! Life goes on!

  6. We should synchronize the age requirements when you can draw social security and the age you can get Medicare. Why do we have so many dysfunctional/separated, fragmented sections of our government. Medicare, Social Security and possibly Medicaid should be linked and function as one unit instead of five.
    Medicare supplement pricings are allowed to be controlled by state and zip code but Medicaid and Social Security are controlled by the US Government regardless of your state or zip code. Why? My 2018 COLA in FL will be the same as those NYC or Boston. Why

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