Legislative Update: July 2020

Legislative Update: July 2020

Should the Medicare Eligibility Age Be Lowered?

By Shannon Benton, Executive Director

How do older Americans feel about proposals to lower the Medicare eligibility age?  A recent TSCL survey found little support for “Medicare for All.”  Just 17% of survey participants said they support the idea of lowering the Medicare age to cover everyone.  On the other hand, a majority of those taking the survey — 49% — said they support allowing adults age 55-64 to have the option to enroll in Medicare.  Twenty five percent were opposed to this proposal and another 25% were undecided.

A Medicare buy-in differs from directly lowering the Medicare eligibility age, because participation in a buy-in would be optional.  Individuals, and employers offering insurance coverage would make decisions about Medicare by comparing coverage, premiums and costs with the private insurance plans also available.

A Medicare buy-in could be offered on the Affordable Care Act marketplace to individuals and, for those who don’t qualify for a subsidy, Medicare would offer a more affordable coverage option due to lower premiums and Medicare’s provider payment rates.  Health policy experts believe that affordability and access to care likely would be improved.

With the ongoing coronavirus crisis, providing affordable access to quality healthcare remains a top issue for voters headed into the 2020 election.  But older voters do not seem to feel that sweeping major change like “Medicare for All” is the way to go.  Providing adults age 55-64 an option to enroll in Medicare appears to be a timely, more incremental approach for consideration by Congress.

With major financial challenges facing the Medicare Trust Fund in the near future, TSCL plans to work with Members of Congress to find solutions that improve program financing without exposing older Americans to higher premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs.

We want to hear how you have been impacted by the coronavirus and rising costs!  Send your comments and if you haven’t already done so please take TSCL’s Survey of Senior Costs https://seniorsleague.org/2020-senior-cost-survey.


Source:  “Examining Approaches to Expand Medicare Eligibility: Key Design Options and Implications,” National Academy of Social Insurance, March 2020.