|"Keep Your Hands Off Of|
To my 22-year-old idealistic self, I apologize. To the millions of Boomers who had to pay for a rising tide of entitlements for the past 40 years, I apologize. To the millions of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Boomers to come, please accept my deepest, most profound apology as well.
I apologize for failing to help reform entitlements back when it would have made a difference. At any time along the way, from 1980 to 2006, had Congress, the U.S. Senate and any president screwed up enough courage, and brains, to reform entitlement programs once and for all, we would not be in the budget and national debt morass we are in today.
Oh sure, there were some sporadic attempts to reform entitlements over the years and some minor success was achieved. But in 1985, if a soothsayer had told budget staffers the eligibility age for Medicare would still be 65 and cost US taxpayers $722 billion — 4.4% of GDP — in FY 2021, they would have been laughed out of Washington. Surely, we thought, and believed, future politicians would not be foolish enough to ignore entitlement growth and let them spin out of control and go bankrupt 40 years in the future.
At the very minimum, Medicare should have been amended to be on the same age eligibility track as Social Security. Social Security recipients must be 66 years and 4 months to receive full benefits today. They will have to be 67 by 2029.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are on Medicare simply due to their age, not their income, wealth or health status. They could buy any hospital in the country for cash and get treated for every ailment under the sun by the best doctors in the world. They do not need the payroll taxes of a blue-collar plumber in Warsaw, North Carolina, to help them pay their medical bills.
One out of every six seniors over age 65 possesses over $1 million in assets, including their home. Instead of being on a comprehensive Medicare plan, they should be enrolled in a managed care plan with catastrophic insurance provisions and pay a far higher share of their health care costs due to their income status.
It is a colossal failure of the modern welfare state of America that middle-to-low-income wage-earners are being taxed at all to pay 90% of health care costs for super-wealthy senior citizens.
No rich person in America should be on welfare.
To be honest and truthful to my rebellious 22-year-old self, I admit, I did breathe a huge sigh of relief when I was forced by law to cancel my private individual health plan to enroll in Medicare. I finally escaped the $1,100/month premium, $11,000 annual deductible and $7,500 family out-of-pocket coinsurance cost of my individual private health plan for the past decade. Before Obamacare passed in 2010, my monthly family health insurance premiums were below $350/month with annual deductibles below $3,000.
My monthly Medicare premium is now $398/month with $1484 deductible for Part A (hospital) and $203 for Part B (doctor). Going on taxpayer-funded Medicare will feel like a $25,000 tax refund due to much lower annual out-of-pocket costs for premiums, deductibles and copays.
I will never join AARP for their part in blocking every sane and sober entitlement reform over the past 40 years. I will never forgive them for their “Republicans Killing Granny” ads. At every turn, the AARP, liberal activist groups and Democrats stopped any reasonable Medicare reform cold for the past 40 years that would have truly saved Medicare instead of bankrupting it for everyone very soon.
Medicare, Social Security and every entitlement program are going to be huge problems for every Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z worker going forward. Their payroll taxes are likely to go up at least 25% and higher for the rest of their lives.
Every Boomer on Medicare would like to thank every younger worker for paying 90% of their health care costs, just as our parents thanked us. Deep down, however, we are sorry we didn’t fix it for you, for us and for America.
We could have done it, but we didn’t. It is all on us.
(first published in North State Journal 3/10/21)