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June 29, 2020

Lowering the Medicare Eligibility Age—Simple Approach, Complex Decisions

Author Affiliations
  • 1American Institutes for Research (retired), Washington, DC
  • 2American Academy of Actuaries, Washington, DC
JAMA Health Forum. 2020;1(6):e200780. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2020.0780

Joe Biden recently called for lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 60 years as part of his plan to expand health insurance coverage in the US. We recently chaired an expert panel for the National Academy of Social Insurance that examined this and other options to use Medicare to expand coverage and lower the costs of health care.1 Attempting to achieve both goals raises complicated issues and requires difficult decisions—such as raising taxes or lowering incomes for health care professionals if Medicare’s lower payment rates are applied for this new population. That does not mean, however, that these are not worthy efforts; our hope is that policy makers will be realistic in their promises and thoughtful in the creation of new legislation. It is in that spirit that we offer some observations gleaned from our work with the panel.

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