Can You Get Medicare At 60?
Towards the end of August 2021, over 100 Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation to lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60.
This legislation is part of a larger movement that Democrats are working towards. They would like to expand Medicare benefits by way of their multi-trillion dollar proposal. This proposal would also include adding dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Original Medicare. These are services that have never been included in Medicare Parts A and B.
Lowering The Age
Lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 is very popular among the Democratic caucus. In fact, 70% of the Democratic caucus pledged support to the legislation.
If Medicare eligibility was lowered at age 60, the Medicare program would include approximately 23 million beneficiaries. The goal is to help adults get affordable healthcare coverage.
But will that be the case? There are studies being done that indicate lowering the Medicare eligibility age may not be all that helpful for many Americans.
Unless other measures are passed to include dental, vision, and hearing coverage, Original Medicare still leaves its members with gaps in coverage. Most individuals purchase a supplemental plan to take care of these out-of-pocket costs. More plans equal more premiums.
What Effects To Look Out For
The premiums for the Obama-era Affordable Care Act have dropped recently due to the COVID relief bill. These premiums are generally less expensive than the premiums for Medicare and any supplemental coverage. For this reason, many adults under age 65 have selected a plan from the Marketplace.
Expanding Medicare will not guarantee that adults will be able to afford the premiums that come with it. Adults on low or modest incomes will still be able to find more affordable coverage elsewhere. The Medicare expansion may only benefit the middle class.
Still, lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 is popular. Two out of every three Americans support the idea, according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2020. That number includes many Republican citizens. Republicans in Congress, however, do not show as much support. Liberals have shown enthusiasm for the plan, but moderates are concerned about unintended political consequences that altering Medicare’s complex financial system may cause. It would be up to the Democrats of Congress to advance the legislation.
Even though there may be more affordable plans on the Marketplace, Medicare does have an advantage. Medicare is accepted nationwide, and its members can receive care from any doctor who accepts Medicare assignments. More than 95% of providers in the United States accept Medicare assignments, so the access to care is huge.
Marketplace plans, on the other hand, are not as widely accepted since they are offered through private insurance companies. These plans operate on more narrow networks.
If Medicare members are able to afford it, pairing Original Medicare with a Medigap plan offers more expansive coverage than any plan currently on the Marketplace.
Time will tell what happens with this legislation.