Is a Medicare buy-in for pre-retirees a good idea, and would it really make a difference?
When Senate Democrats last week began considering a proposal to let people ages 55 to 64 buy into Medicare, medical providers complained that they had already made concessions on health care reform, and that subjecting them to Medicare payment rates for this new population would further hit them in the pocketbook. Indeed, Medicare pays doctors less than do private insurers.
This is a very difficult population to cover with insurance. These people do not yet qualify for Medicare, and if they aren't working, then they don't have access to employer-sponsored coverage. Moreover, they are considered a poor risk for insurers, who often don't take them on a walk-in basis, or charge them high premiums. About 35 percent of adults in this age group were uninsured in 2008, accounting for 12.5 percent of all uninsured Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
How much would a Medicare buy-in help this population, and would it have a positive or negative effect on the health care system?