On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie presented a new plan to reorganize privileges, part of which is also raising the age for people who are eligible for Medicare.
A lot of conservatives think his plans are great, and Christie’s proposal received some sturdy applause. However, the law that allows the retirement age to be raised from 65 to 69 is precisely the one conservatives are very set against: Obamacare.
If the working-class Americans happen to lose their work health insurance – at the age of 65 for example – they would instead qualify for the decent subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act. In the case of a reduced income, Medicaid is also available in some states or even better subsidies in the insurance exchanges.
Avik Roy, a well-known Republican specialist in health care policy, has often argued that conservatives shouldn’t hate Obamacare, but instead use it for their own policies. Obamacare creates coverage for people who would be left dry by raising the eligibility age for Medicare – it offers a safety net, so the Medicare age is easier to raise.
But does the government actually save any money with this move? If seniors who would have been eligible for Medicare – a relatively cheap insurance – transfer to private care, the more expensive alternative, where is the benefit?
This is a decade-long debate, arguing that either way, the cost of granting health care to 65-69 year-olds is coming from one or another part of the federal budget. On one side of the matter, some say that it does save money, since the Affordable Care Act offers personalized subsidies that get smaller as the personal income rises – unlike Medicare, which grants the same assistance to all.
After an elementary analysis, Michael E. Chernew, who teaches health care policy at Harvard Medical School, explained that the federal government would indeed be saving money by raising the eligibility age for Medicare, just for the simple reason that seniors who have higher incomes won’t be able to receive any other federal subsidies.
Chernew also talked about the more complex consequences of Gov. Christie’s plan, such as the level of quality in care and the way this policy might or might not motivate older Americans to keep working for longer.
In the same attempt, Christie also plans to keep Americans working after 65 by removing the payroll tax in the case of 62 and older people still in the workforce. Do conservatives really want to start from scratch, or are they going to use Obamacare for their own reforms in the health care system?
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