- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
AP-GfK Poll: Baby boomers fear outliving Medicare
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) - The first baby boomers will be old enough to qualify for Medicare Jan. 1, and many fear the program’s obituary will be written before their own.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that baby boomers believe by a ratio of 2-to-1 they won’t be able to rely on the giant health insurance plan throughout their retirement.
The boomers took a running dive into adolescence and went on to redefine work and family, but getting old is making them nervous.
Yet the survey also shows a surprising willingness among adults of all ages to sacrifice to preserve Medicare benefits that most Americans say they deserve after years of paying taxes into the system at work.
Take the contentious issue of Medicare’s eligibility age, fixed at 65, while the qualifying age for Social Security is rising gradually to 67.
Initially, 63 percent of boomers in the poll dismissed the idea of raising the eligibility age to keep Medicare afloat financially. But when the survey forced them to choose between raising the age or cutting benefits, 59 percent said raise the age and keep the benefits.
“I don’t mind the fact that people may have to work a little longer,” said Lynn Barlow, 60, a real estate agent who lives outside Atlanta. Especially if there’s time to plan, laboring a few extra years allows people to save more for retirement.
Bring up benefit cuts and Barlow isn’t nearly as accommodating. “I started working when I was 16 and I expect a benefit after putting into it for so many years,” she said.
As Medicare reaches a historic threshold, the poll also found differences by age, gender and income among baby boomers. For example, baby boom women, who can expect to live longer than both their mothers and their husbands, are much more pessimistic than men about the program’s future.
Medicare is a middle-class bulwark against the ravages of illness in old age. It covers 46 million elderly and disabled people at an annual cost of about $500 billion. But the high price of American-style medicine, stressing intensive treatment and the latest innovations, is already straining program finances. Add the number of baby boomers, more than 70 million born between 1946 and 1964, and Medicare’s fiscal foundation starts to shake.
Here’s the math: when the last of the boomers reaches age 65 in about two decades, Medicare will be covering more than 80 million people. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying taxes to support the program will have plunged from 3.5 for each person receiving benefits currently, to 2.3.
“The 800-pound gorilla is eating like mad and growing to 1,200 pounds,” said economist Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute, warning about the imbalance. “The switch from worker to retiree status has implications for everything.”
The government can’t balance its books without dealing with health care costs, and Medicare is in the middle. Some leading Republicans and a few Democrats have called for phasing out the program and instead giving each retiree a fixed payment _ or voucher _to help them buy private medical insurance of their choice. The poll found doubts about the idea, and a generational debate.
Overall, a narrow majority (51 percent) of Americans opposed the voucher plan. But those born after 1980 favored it by 47 percent to 41 percent, while seniors opposed it 4-to-1. A majority of boomers were also opposed, with 43 percent strongly objecting.
By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay quip
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- UHLER and FERRARA: Obamacare, the end of the progressive era
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Paul Rondeau exposes the propaganda, media tricks, and government policies that undermine our families, faith, freedom…and even life itself
Implement these actionable tips, how-to’s and best practices in 10 minutes or less to leverage online communications and technology for brand, business and career development.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow