Political Animal


December 04, 2012 1:19 PM About Those Medicare Retirement Age “Savings”

By Ed Kilgore

At WaPo’s Wonkblog, Sarah Kliff notes that the relatively paltry $5.7 billion first-year savings to the federal government that an increase in Medicare’s retirement age from 65 to 67 would generate will be more than offset by increased costs to the people immediately affected, plus employers, other Medicare beneficiaries, and the states. In fact, in no small part because Medicare is more efficient than private insurance, the new costs ($11.5 billon in FY 2014) would almost double the savings to Medicare.

Other Medicare beneficiaries would face higher premiums because the 65-67 year-old cohort is relatively healthy, and its elimination from the Medicare pool would boost costs. And the whole scheme only works at all, ironically, thanks to Obamacare, which will offer subsidize insurance (either through employers—whose own costs would be affected—or the new health exchanges).

What a deal, eh?

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on December 04, 2012 1:26 PM:

    It works perfectly well if you use Rovian-Ryanian math.

  • Steve LaBonne on December 04, 2012 1:27 PM:

    It's this idiotic idea above all that plainly reveals the pointless sadism behind the Village's enthusiasm for "entitlement reform".

    What we SHOULD be doing is allowing buy-in to Medicare from at least age 55.

  • jim filyaw on December 04, 2012 2:18 PM:

    now, i'm confused. the wapo's robert samuelson has been assuring everybody for years that raising the eligibilty age would work miracles (such as reminding those mooching 66 year olds that they are forever peasants and weaning us off creeping socialism).

  • Matt on December 04, 2012 2:41 PM:

    because Medicare is more efficient than private insurance, the new costs ($11.5 billon in FY 2014) would almost double the savings to Medicare.

    Kind of makes you wonder what we'd be looking at if we rolled the Medicare enrollment age back two years to 63. Or, say, 65 years to 0.

  • Quaker in a Basement on December 04, 2012 2:42 PM:

    Wait, aren't these the same Republicans who lashed Obama for his cuts to Medicare during the recent campaign?

  • jjm on December 04, 2012 2:59 PM:

    The GOP has bupkes.

    And this time, Obama holds all the cards.

  • tejanarusa on December 04, 2012 5:31 PM:

    jim filyaw - robert samuelson is an idiot. A right-wing 1 percenter idiot. He isn't even an economist by training or education, though he writes as though he is.

    Years ago it dawned on me that whatever he wrote, I could assume the opposite was the truth. Then I got even smarter and stopped reading his drivel.

    quaker ina basement...yup!Funny how that works, isn't it?

  • paul on December 04, 2012 8:28 PM:

    Y'all don't understand. From the GOP point of view this makes perfect sense. Beat up on the elderly in the name of deficit reduction, and then, when the reduction doesn't materialize, raise the retirement age and cut benefits even more. Eventually enough middle-income and poor elderly people will die for lack of care before becoming eligible that the costs stabilize. Then David Brooks can go home happy that his mission has been fulfilled.

  • thebewilderness on December 04, 2012 11:21 PM:

    That is the part that makes no sense whatsoever. Remove the healthiest people from the pool and save money? I don't think so.

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