Archive for Thursday, December 30, 2010

Poll: Most baby boomers expect to outlive Medicare

December 30, 2010

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— The first baby boomers will be old enough to qualify for Medicare Jan. 1, and many fear the program’s obituary will be written before their own.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that baby boomers believe by a ratio of 2-to-1 they won’t be able to rely on the giant health insurance plan throughout their retirement.

The boomers took a running dive into adolescence and went on to redefine work and family, but getting old is making them nervous.

Now, 43 percent say they don’t expect to be able to depend on Medicare forever, while only 20 percent think their Medicare is secure. The rest have mixed feelings.

Yet the survey also shows a surprising willingness among adults of all ages to sacrifice to preserve Medicare benefits that most Americans say they deserve after years of paying taxes into the system at work.

Take the contentious issue of Medicare’s eligibility age, fixed at 65, while the qualifying age for Social Security is rising gradually to 67.

Initially, 63 percent of boomers in the poll dismissed the idea of raising the eligibility age to keep Medicare afloat financially. But when the survey forced them to choose between raising the age or cutting benefits, 59 percent said raise the age and keep the benefits.

“I don’t mind the fact that people may have to work a little longer,” said Lynn Barlow, 60, a real estate agent who lives outside Atlanta. Especially if there’s time to plan, laboring a few extra years allows people to save more for retirement.

Bring up benefit cuts and Barlow isn’t nearly as accommodating. “I started working when I was 16 and I expect a benefit after putting into it for so many years,” she said.

As Medicare reaches a historic threshold, the poll also found differences by age, gender and income among baby boomers. For example, baby boom women, who can expect to live longer than both their mothers and their husbands, are much more pessimistic than men about the program’s future.

Medicare is a middle-class bulwark against the ravages of illness in old age. It covers 46 million elderly and disabled people at an annual cost of about $500 billion. But the high price of American-style medicine, stressing intensive treatment and the latest innovations, is already straining program finances. Add the number of baby boomers, more than 70 million born between 1946 and 1964, and Medicare’s fiscal foundation starts to shake.

Here’s the math: when the last of the boomers reaches age 65 in about two decades, Medicare will be covering more than 80 million people. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying taxes to support the program will have plunged from 3.5 for each person receiving benefits currently, to 2.3.

“The 800-pound gorilla is eating like mad and growing to 1,200 pounds,” said economist Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute, warning about the imbalance. “The switch from worker to retiree status has implications for everything.”

The government can’t balance its books without dealing with health care costs, and Medicare is in the middle. Some leading Republicans and a few Democrats have called for phasing out the program and instead giving each retiree a fixed payment — or voucher —to help them buy private medical insurance of their choice. The poll found doubts about the idea, and a generational debate.

Overall, a narrow majority (51 percent) of Americans opposed the voucher plan. But those born after 1980 favored it by 47 percent to 41 percent, while seniors opposed it 4-to-1. A majority of boomers were also opposed, with 43 percent strongly objecting.

However, younger boomers like RoxAnne Christley of Roanoke, Va., were more likely to be favorable.

“I think that’s a possibility if it brings choices and competition,” said Christley, 47. “We don’t need to stimulate the government; we need to stimulate the economy. A lot of people have different choices when it comes to medical coverage, and I see nothing wrong with that at all.” Christley is self-employed, counseling new mothers on breast feeding.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Nov. 18-22, 2010, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

With the success of the Republicans this last election, worry about how long Medicare (and Social Security) will be around is well founded. After all, in order to win the race to the bottom, the social safety net needs to be completely eliminated.

dinoman 4 years, 6 months ago

im a lot younger and have put into the system for more than twenty years... i believe that there is no way there will be any money left in the system when i get to retirement age.. politics be a fact is a fact do the math.... less in more out does not equal a positive.. but i cant stop paying to a system because that would be against the law .. same as taxes i don't get to pick and choose what they are spent on ... so what are we left with... a broken system and a lot of hot air about how so and so should fix it.. i say throw the whole thing out and start fresh while my generation still has the time to put away into a new system before i have to draw my non existent retirement... thanks

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

Both systems could are easily made secure, if the political will is there. But not in a race to the bottom-- a race run solely at the behest of the Koch brothers, et al.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

THE NOT REPUBLICAN PARTY STILL HAVE THE SAME THINKERS CALLING THE SHOTS NO MATTER WHAT. IF THERE IS A TEA PARTY OR NOT.

WHAT KARL ROVE,BUSH FAMILY,KOCH BROTHERS AND NEWT GINGRICH HAVE IN MIND IS TO CONVINCE ALL OF WE TAXPAYERS OUR STATES ARE GOING BROKE. THEN HAVE CORPORATE AMERICA SLIP IN TO TAKE OVER GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS. THIS IS WHAT WALL STREET THINKERS WANT.

CORPORATE AMERICA WANTS MORE OF OUR TAX DOLLARS IN THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS. THAT IS WHY THEY PUT OUT LIES AND MISINFORMATION ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY,MEDICARE AND OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM

HEY AMERICANS WHO IS IT THAT PERPETRATES FRAUD AGAINST OUR GOVERNMENT, OUR MEDICARE, AGAINST MEDICAL INSURANCE CONSUMERS,OUR RETIREMENT PLANS ,OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM AND YOU AS A TAXPAYER?

IT IS THE WHITE COLLAR FRAUDS REPRESENTING WALL STREET, THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND THE MEDICAL INSURANCE INDUSTRY. IT IS ALSO THE SEN. BILL FRIST FAMILY OF HMO’S ALL OF WHICH ARE KNOWN AS THE WHITE COLLAR THIEVES IN THE USA. WITH THE HELP OF THE RECKLESS NEOCON REPUBLICAN PARTY OF COURSE.

THIS IS THE GROUP SPEWING LIES AND MISINFORMATION ABOUT GOVERNMENT SERVCES!!! THEY WANT THOSE TAX DOLLARS IN THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS.

THE PROBLEM IS NOT MEDICARE,SOCIAL SECURITY OR OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. THE PROBLEM IS THE WHITE COLLAR FRAUDS AND LIARS.

THE QUESTION IS WHY ARE YOU AND I BUYING INTO THEIR LIES, MISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA

WHAT’S MISSING IS HARD EVIDENCE TO BACK UP THEIR PROPAGANDA. THERE IS NO HARD EVIDENCE. THERE IS NO HARD EVIDENCE,

WHAT IS ONE METHOD WE MUST FORCE AND EMPLOY TO CLEAN THIS MATTER UP? Lets’s demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/

We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue. http://www.publicampaign.org/

Very interesting: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/30/AR2010063005316.html?sid=ST2010122600556

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

The USA can have the best health care numbers in the world IF the USA gets rid of the worst and most expensive medical insurance system in the world.

AND it could be done without increasing taxes and at the same time creates an estimated 2.6 million jobs. Health care in and of itself is the fastest growing industry in america.

This country collects trillions upon trillions of tax dollars. Instead of raising taxes the USA diverts enough of this existing source of tax dollars to cover the cost of IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL. What would america get for this coverage?

IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL would cover every person for all necessary medical care to include:

* prescription drugs
* hospital
* surgical,
* outpatient services
*  primary and preventive care
*  emergency services,
* dental
* mental health
* home health  
* physical therapy
* rehabilitation (including for substance abuse),
* vision care,
* hearing services including hearing aids
* chiropractic
* durable medical equipment
* palliative care
* long term care

No more deductibles or co-pays.

Allow IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL to be available now to all taxpaying consumers and let them make the choice. The mechanism is in place as we speak.

Health care in and of itself would remain a private industry however IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for All leaves choice of doctors,clinics,hospital and services across the board to the consumer.

IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL is very smart insurance!!!

http://www.healthcare-now.org/

Flap Doodle 4 years, 6 months ago

Copy/paste and lawnmowers are killing the planet. Ban them now. BTW, a search on "improved medicare insurance for all" + merrill brings up 584 hits. Give it a rest, bub.

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