As the Presidential campaigns of the Republican and Democratic candidates unfold, seniors have growing concerns over why the candidates seem to distance themselves from dealing with the future of Social Security and Medicare.
Nobody seems to disagree that these programs have serious problems, so why would candidates fail to address the growing crisis? In a recent article by Phillip Moeller, it appears Social Security and Medicare are in trouble. He believes these entitlement programs are on unsustainable spending paths and by ignoring the problem, costs could soar to record heights.
According to the Social Security administration, social security is spending more than it brings in every year and at the current pace, funds will be depleted by 2034.
Interestingly, Moeller references spending projections from the Congressional budget office that indicate alarming numbers ahead.
- In 2015, Social Security outlays were $882 billion, and health spending which is made up of mostly Medicare and Medicaid, totaled $1.03 trillion.
- By 2020, the bill for these two sectors is projected to increase to $1.14 trillion for Social Security and $1.14 trillion for health care, a 32% increase totaling $2.5 trillion.
- By 2025, spending is expected to reach $3.4 trillion representing almost 60% of all federal spending...$1.5 trillion for Social Security and $1.9 trillion for health care.
So, to put a bold plan in place to solve this crisis would be difficult to say the least. However, at some point in the near future, you can expect Washington DC to deal with the escalating problem where a high stakes battle will transpire.
According to Moeller, he says he doesn't have a crystal ball, but believes Social Security and Medicare will no longer be universal benefit programs, but will evolve into Welfare programs that will be skewed toward low-income citizens.
Some of the proposals that may surface may be quite painful to digest.
For Social Security, we may see:
- Full retirement age to receive benefits rising from 66 to 67 for those born after 1960.
- Social Security cost of living may be reduced by using a “Chained Consumer Price Index”.
- Payroll tax ceiling for payroll taxes may rise significantly.
According to the 2015 Medicare Trustees Report, Medicare is a much more complex funding challenge. Part A is funded by revenue from payroll taxes from employers, employees, and people who are self employed. It covers certain inpatient hospital expenses. But for others, Part B for doctors and outpatient services, Part C for Medicare Advantage and Part D for prescription drugs, consumer taxes and premiums covered 28% of the total costs. The emaining 72% is paid directly by taxpayers totaling $250 billion in 2014.
For Medicare, we may see:
- Medicare premiums rising for higher-income beneficiaries.
- Those who are middle and low-income users of Medicare and Medicaid will face more restrictive health care choices with a narrower network of low cost doctors and hospitals.
- A move away from fee for service toward fee for value care. Doctors and hospitals will be paid on outcomes instead of tests.
- A shift toward paying provider groups for bundled care to save money, but the change could jeopardize patient choice.
With tough times ahead for our senior citizens, and difficult decisions to make by our next President, no wonder the candidates are steering clear of this crisis.