Naked Capitalism featured a piece today by Matt Stoller (Link). The not so surprising conclusion by Matt was that moving the age for Medicare availability from 65 to 67 will actually cost some lives. The article concludes that the two-year change in federal medical coverage will result in 1,261 additional deaths each year.
I’m reading this, thinking, “Hey, that’s not so bad!” Matt saw it differently:
“Or we could leave things as they are, with a Medicare age at 65, and no extra seniors need die.”
I’m not sure that Stoller is right about this. I wish he were, but the numbers say he’s wrong. The fact is, hard choices have to be made, and yes, people will die as a result. The article fails to analyse the benefits of moving the Medicare puzzle around. Fortunately, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) answered this question back in January (Link). The conclusion:
“CBO estimates that raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 would reduce federal Medicare outlays, net of premiums and other offsetting receipts, by $148 billion from 2012 through 2021.”
Take the two estimates together, total Early Exiters (EEs) over 10 years = 12,610. This means the overall savings comes to a very tidy $11.7m per EE. A big bang for the buck, so to speak.
The CBO should do some more studies on potential savings. Sort of roll up their sleeves and have a look, as it were. I wonder what the savings might be if some new “rules” were adopted. On the list might be:
-No new knees or hips after age 85.
-No open heart surgery for men over 82. (Forget about that triple bi-pass that will keep you around another five years.) Women would be eligible up to 85. (Think of the pissing match that would cause)
-A diagnosis of late stage Alzheimer’s gets one on a fast track to “Hospice Care”. (No meds, palliative only. Door to door, so to speak, averages three weeks)
This subject will be on the front page for the next year while the Medicare “fix” is tossed around. After that, it will come up regularly when other ways to “save” a few bil. are found. I figure someone has to make some black humour from this, I might as well start now. Before you toss a brick my way, consider that I’m 62 and in four years, I will be a real player on this stage. Who knows? I might even become an EE’er. This joke is on me.