Using data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and other government agencies along with parameters from published academic research studies, this study analyzes the impact of the Romney-Ryan plan on current and future seniors and shows that the increase in health care costs under the Romney-Ryan plan would be financially debilitating for all seniors. We detail these findings in the pages that follow, but briefly here are the findings.
Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan claim that no one over 55 will be affected by their health care plan. This claim is false. Their plan would harm all seniors. The Romney-Ryan plan would hurt current seniors in two important ways:
Increased drug costs and higher Medicare premiums. By repealing the Affordable Care Act, the Romney-Ryan plan would raise health care costs in retirement by $11,000 for the average person who is 65 years old today.
Increased long-term care costs, including increased costs for nursing home care, because of cuts to Medicaid. A substantial share of Medicaid spending pays for health care costs for Medicare beneficiaries. The Romney-Ryan Medicaid cuts mean a loss of over $2,500 annually for seniors currently on Medicare who also rely on Medicaid. Unlike the Medicare voucher system that would begin in 2023 the cuts to Medicaid would begin almost immediately.
For seniors who will become eligible for Medicare after 2022, the financial harm would be even worse.
Increasingly unaffordable costs for all seniors who qualify for Medicare after 2022. For seniors turning 65 in 2023, Medicare costs during retirement would increase by $59,500 in 2012 dollars under the Romney-Ryan plan. Because under the Romney-Ryan plan the amount of seniors’ vouchers will not keep pace with rising health care costs, these numbers are even worse for future generations. In today’s dollars seniors who qualify for Medicare in 2030 would see an increase of $124,600 in Medicare costs over their retirement. Seniors who qualify for Medicare in 2040 will see an increase of $216,600. And by 2050 newly eligible seniors will pay $331,200 more in Medicare costs over their retirement.
Additional costs from private plans cherry picking healthier patients. Three-fourths of all Medicare beneficiaries are currently in traditional Medicare. The Romney-Ryan plan would include traditional Medicare as an option in the proposed program, but the costs for seniors who choose to remain in the traditional Medicare program would likely increase even more sharply than for seniors who chose a private plan. Most analysts expect the traditional Medicare plan to attract Medicare beneficiaries with the greatest health needs. In that case, Medicare would no longer enjoy a balanced risk pool and seniors choosing traditional Medicare could wind up paying an extra $29,000 on average over their retirement lifetime above and beyond the costs described above.
These estimates are conservative because we modeled the plan that Rep. Ryan released—and that Gov. Romney endorsed—earlier this year. As the Congressional Budget Office has estimated, Rep. Ryan’s original 2011 plan would result in increased costs that are several orders of magnitude greater than those modeled here.
Let’s examine each of these troubling consequences in turn.
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