Medicare Age Increase and Alzheimer's - The Actual Cost Of Washington's Clever Debt Deal - Esquire
We are on the brink of an epidemic of AD in this country. There are 5.4 million people with the disease right now, and there are estimated to be another 15 million people — mostly, aging spouses and economically stressed children — providing what amounts to $210 billion in unpaid care. (There are estimated to be 800,000 people with the disease who are living alone.) The disease already costs $140 billion to Medicare and Medicaid. By 2050, it is estimated, and assuming a cure is not found, the total cost of caring for Alzheimer's patients could soar past $1 trillion.
The current plan being bruited about in Washington would raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 years of age. This is the low end of the Alzheimer's spectrum, but the increase in diagnosed cases is still significant, rising three percent per thousand people nationally just between 2000 and 2008. In John Boehner's Ohio, there are 13,000 people roughly within that window with the disease. There are 7,100 in Eric Cantor's Virginia, and 5700 in Paul Ryan's Wisconsin. All of these people represent not only the ravages of the disease, but the severe emotional and economic strain that it puts on their families. All of these people represent a considerable amount of pain that is not being factored into the shrewd political calculations that get you on the Sunday shows.
Make this deal, and what do all these people and their families do? Shop for private insurance for another two years? Does that sound remotely practical to anyone who are not: a) members of Congress enjoying the benefits of a government-run, single-payer health care system?, or b) well-remunerated pundits who can afford a Cadillac plan of their own. This is a great rock rolling down the hill in American health-care, and there simply is no "private-sector" solution to it that isn't laughable on its face. Raising the Medicare eligibility age will hurt people. It will hasten their deaths. It will bankrupt their families. These people will not appreciate how clever you all were.