Five Things to Know About the GOP Plan for Medicare

07/01/2011 11:25 am 11:25:26 | Updated Aug 31, 2011

Would you be willing to bet your health care coverage on the flip of a coin?

Before Medicare, nearly half of American seniors were forced to go without coverage because insurance companies were reluctant to insure them -- making the chances of having health insurance as a senior the same as getting tails on a coin flip.

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the implementation of Medicare. Thanks to Medicare nearly all American seniors now have health care coverage. Additionally, Medicare played a role in dropping the rate of poverty among seniors by nearly 75 percent.

Yet as we celebrate this anniversary, Republicans are willing to risk all of the progress we've made. This year, House Republicans voted to end Medicare, reduce benefits, and increase health care costs for seniors. Their plan puts the burden of cutting the deficit on the backs of American seniors to protect tax giveaways for big oil and companies that ship U.S. jobs overseas.

Here are five important things to know about the GOP plan to end Medicare:

1. The GOP plan for Medicare is to end it:

Americans count on the guaranteed benefits they paid for under Medicare. The GOP plan ends that guaranteed benefit and replaces it with a limited payment that goes directly to health insurance companies. The payment only covers a portion of health care costs, leaving seniors and their families on their own to cover the rest.

2. An average 40-year-old would need to save $350,000 more to pay for health care under the GOP plan:

Think health care costs are already high? Under the GOP plan, private insurance costs to seniors would skyrocket. For example, according the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a 40-year-old would need to save almost $350,000 more before retiring just to pay for the increased costs under the GOP plan.

3. Out-of-pocket costs would skyrocket:

The GOP plan would more than double out-of-pocket costs for seniors. This means that in 2022 a typical 65 year-old would pay an additional $6,000 a year for health care.

4. It shifts costs to seniors:

Under the GOP plan, the size of each senior's voucher would increase each year, but not by enough to cover the increase in the cost of health care. This means that over time the vouchers would cover less and less of seniors' health care costs, leaving seniors on their own to pay for the rest.

5. It increases the age of eligibility:

Hard working Americans who have paid into the Medicare system for decades on the guarantee that they would be able to enroll at 65 will be forced to wait an additional two years until the age of 67 to even get the limited voucher.

Democrats will continue to fight to protect and strengthen Medicare -- just as we have done continuously for the 45 years since we created it.