Thursday, December 17, 2009

Medicare 'buy-in': A bargain or burden?

USAToday reports that buying into Medicare at 55 — an option that may be added to the Senate's plan to revamp the health care system — might not be such a bargain. Details of the plan remain secret pending analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which will project its cost to those who might be eligible and the federal government. People ages 55 to 64 who are uninsured or paying high premiums in the individual market likely would be eligible. Most of those with employer-provided coverage would not.

Liberal Democrats backing the plan see it as a potential salvation for people approaching retirement with chronic diseases or medical risks. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., says it would be like "finally entering safe harbor after years of stormy seas."

Moderate members of the Democratic caucus have concerns, however. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., on Sunday called it a potential forerunner of a single government insurance plan for everyone. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., appearing on CBS' Face the Nation with Nelson, said it could add to the federal deficit.

Learn more: Medicare 'buy-in': A bargain or burden?

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