Savvy Consumers Should be Worried About the Future of Medicare
For many years, Medicare has helped senior citizens subsidize their medical expenses, and the program has become wildly popular after initial skepticism in the 1960s when it was ushered into existence.
In light of recent economic events, however, Medicare’s future may be in limbo, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle.
A rapidly aging population, and a slowly growing workforce, could combine to place a serious burden on younger generations’ ability to secure Medicare benefits. This could lead to a marked increase in medical debt for younger Americans.
The Uncertain Future of Medicare
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Medicare faces a very uncertain future:
- The program. In brief, Medicare offers medical insurance to certain people who have a lot of medical expenses, or are unable to afford basic coverage. Medicare does not pay for all of a person’s medical care, but it does offer significant aid, often paying for more than 80 percent of a person’s medical bills. Medicare offers health coverage for millions of Americans who otherwise could not afford treatment.
- The problem. As the Baby Boom generation reaches retirement age, a rapid influx of retirees are entering the Medicare program. Since Medicare is funded by working taxpayers, younger generations will soon have to start footing the bill for retirees’ health insurance. This has always been the case, but the rising number of retirees in relation to younger workers threatens to sap Medicare’s funding sources.
- The possibilities. If the Medicare program was eventually closed, the San Francisco Chronicle predicts that elderly and low-income people could suffer tremendously. These at-risk groups would have to find health insurance with major private insurers, but their applications could be turned down due to pre-existing conditions.
- Collateral damage. In addition to reduced insurance for the poor and elderly, the death of Medicare could lead to skyrocketing medical costs for other people seeking medical aid, as more and more medical service for uninsured people goes unpaid.
The death of Medicare is not imminent, but it is a realistic possibility. And Congress’s inability to address the matter in a productive, bipartisan manner only serves to kick the problem down the road.
In a world without Medicare, or a suitable replacement, medical bills Chapter 7 bankruptcy would likely skyrocket, and more elderly and low-income Americans would likely turn to Chapter 7 bankruptcy to help eliminate their medical debt.
But while Chapter 7 is a powerful tool to combat high medical bills, it is certainly not a replacement for a fully functioning health insurance system.