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Will You Have to Wait Past Age 65 to Get Medicare?

Major politicians want to raise the eligibility age to 67, but some people would be exempt

By Bob Rosenblatt

But the fiscal challenge from all federal health care expenditures — including Medicare and health costs for people under 65 — would still be significant. Today about 17 percent of the Gross Domestic Product goes to health care, and that’s scheduled to rise to 19 percent by 2019. 


Under current law, Medicare is a great financial deal for Americans covered by the program, providing them with far more in benefits than they paid in Medicare taxes.

Consider the following, from a study by The Urban Institute think tank:

A man who turned 65 last year and earned the average wage during his working lifetime — $43,500 a year – would have paid a total of $58,000 in Medicare taxes. His expected lifetime Medicare benefits, however, would be $167,000.

Today's 47-year-old man will have paid an estimated $87,000 in Medicare taxes, on average, by the time he turns 65. His expected lifetime Medicare benefits would be $251,000. And a 47-year-old woman would collect $275,000 in benefits, on average, because women live longer than men.

The Urban Institute hasn't run the numbers for those 47-year-olds if the Medicare eligibility age goes up, but it's likely that those people would still receive more in Medicare benefits than they'll pay in Medicare taxes.

Bob Rosenblatt is a writer and editor specializing in aging issues. His blog, Help With Aging, focuses on the finances of aging. He was a Washington correspondent for The Los Angeles Times for 26 years. Read More
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