Who Gets Hurt if We Raise Medicare Age to 67.

Originally posted on April 21, 2010 in response to a proposal to raise Medicare age for eligibility:

I hit the trifecta this week by meeting three women who will turn 65 in July.  All three of them told me they had been without health insurance for many years. They are thrilled to be turning 65 –  so they can get on Medicare.

Linda told me that she and her husband have spent most of their retirement savings on her medical bills over the last ten years.  Karen said she has had pain in her left leg for quite a while and she worries about what  a doctor might find when she gets her Medicare and goes for a physical exam. Gayle looks like she’s 55, not 65.  She has no health problems and takes no medications.

As an insurance broker, I have met too many women in their 50’s and 60’s who cannot get health insurance – and it’s just not right.

I have also met men who have continued to work well into their 70’s so they could keep their employer health insurance for their younger wife – who was uninsurable because of some health problem.

Earlier this year I met with a man who was 68 years old and finally leaving work and signing up for Medicare.  His wife was sitting at the kitchen table with us and her arms were trembling. I couldn’t help but ask her what her medical problem was.  She told me she has Parkinsons… and she no longer has health insurance.  She is 62 years old.

About two years ago, I met a  woman who was 64 and had lost her group coverage because her artists’ co-op had disbanded.  She wanted to buy individual health insurance, but was refused because her cholesterol was too  high.  When I talked to her last fall, as she was approaching her 65th birthday, I said, “You’re gonna make it to 65 in one piece!  Now let’s get you signed up for your Medicare coverage!”  Turning 65 was a blessing for her.

Yesterday I met with Karen, the woman who has had pain in her leg for a while, but was waiting for her Medicare coverage to start before going to a doctor. After we discussed her Medicare coverage options,  she turned to her 40 year-old disabled daughter and shouted gleefully, “Mommy’s getting health insurance! Mommy’s getting health insurance!”

When politicians talk about raising the eligibility age for Medicare, I think of Karen and the relief – and joy – she felt about getting Medicare… and  it makes me want to cry.

Senator Lieberman, Paul Ryan, and all those politicians who have excellent health insurance, have no clue as to what millions of Americans are going through.

How can they talk about raising the Medicare age AND killing the Affordable Care Act?  Without the Affordable Care Act, people like those I have written about would continue to go without health insurance and medical care. Raising the Medicare age will keep them without health insurance even longer – and  they’ll just get sicker and sicker, and be more expensive when they finally get Medicare. What a brilliant idea!

*****

Republicans are at it again in 2016 with new proposals to change Medicare and raise the Medicare age for eligibility to 67.  I wrote about that terrible proposal here: http://medicareblog.org/ryan-plan-medicare-terrible/

 

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