17 July 2009

Four-million Baby Boomers are Without Health Care Coverage

We often hear of the 47-million Americans without health care insurance and the corollary that many of them are children. What often does not get mentioned is that nearly 10% of those uninsured Americans are baby-boomers. That's right, 4-million Americans 55-64 years of age currently do not have health insurance coverage.

This is a demographic facing more chronic care needs than younger people while, at the same time, is having great difficulty in finding affordable health care coverage. Some are early retirees; and some are outplaced, and some are under-employed; and some are unemployed, but, all are in a real bind unless health care reform brings them affordable relief.

A federally subsidized Medicare buy-in program is the perfect solution and should be part of the final health care reform package to be signed by President Obama.

Unfortunately current proposals being worked on provide for a buy-in program which would have beneficiaries paying the full-cost of Medicare plus a 5% "administrative fee". This would place the "buy-in" program beyond the means of too many baby-boomers who already have no coverage due to the costs. Remember, the majority of the uninsured 55-64 year old already are in reduced circumstances with a median family income of only $20,800 according to a 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation study.

The solution is to make the "buy-in" premiums affordable through a subsidy program. Two quick and easy ways to offset much of the cost of such a subsidy would be to completely eliminate Medicare over-payment to the so-called Advantage plans, and to allow Medicare to bid its Part D drug benefit to the lowest bidder as does the V.A..

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