Joe Biden wants Medicare to start at 60
Medicare Availability May Not Be Affordable
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic candidate for president, has eschewed some of the more grandiose schemes of some of his rivals, such as Medicare for All, which would replace the patchwork of private insurance and various government-provided plans with a single-payer system. Instead, Biden prefers to expand on existing healthcare programs to attempt to extend insurance to people who currently lack it.
One such Biden proposal is the idea of lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare to 60. According to a recent article in Forbes, the scheme may be attractive to seniors, especially in the age of the coronavirus when many people have lost their jobs and hence employer-provided health insurance.
The proposal is an improvement over plans offered under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which has proven to be unaffordable for many middle-income families because they do not qualify for subsidies. Biden would also keep the privately offered Medicare advantage plans that many seniors use to supplement their regular Medicare
The proposal would work by allowing seniors between 60 and 65 who are unemployed or whose job does not offer health insurance to “buy into” the existing Medicare system. The cost of this buy-in is uncertain; however, one analysis suggests that access to Medicare would be more attractive financially than other options, such as plans under the ACA. Seniors who do not have access to private insurance or who are still too young to be part of the existing Medicare system would have more options.
Of course, some questions remain about the Biden proposal. An analysis by Avalere suggests that 23 million more Americans would be eligible for Medicare under the scheme. Would the Medicare system be able to bear the extra cost? Will the proposal start to undercut private plans for seniors between 60 and 64, causing employers to dump the cost of health insurance onto the government? Would the temptation arise to lower the age of eligibility further, in effect creating a Medicare for All system, with all of its problems, by the back door? These and other questions will doubtlessly be argued about as the campaign cycle goes forward and beyond, should Biden win the presidency.