WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- AARP and 20 other U.S. organizations say the federal budget should not be balanced on the backs of the elderly by raising the eligibility for Medicare to 67.
The groups sent a letter to U.S. congressional leaders urging them to reject any policy proposals that would increase the age of eligibility for Medicare.
"We're fighting to stop Congress from making a deal that would deny seniors their Medicare benefits until they turn 67, forcing them to pay more than $2,000 more per year for healthcare," Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president for AARP, said in a statement. "Rather than simply shifting costs to seniors and employers, we need to lower healthcare costs throughout the healthcare system."
Increased healthcare costs for those ages 65-67 may put coverage and care out of reach for many, and single women and minorities may be disproportionately affected, LeaMond said.
"Roughly one-quarter of individuals age 65 and older live in families that depend on Social Security benefits for 90 percent or more of their income. In June 2011, the average annual Social Security benefit for all retired workers was approximately $14,000. Women, on average, tend to rely on Social Security even more," the letter said. "Given their limited incomes and health status, denying 65- and 66-year-olds Medicare coverage will make it much more difficult for them to find affordable health insurance -- especially for those without employer-based coverage. As a result, when these individuals ultimately enter the Medicare program, they are more apt to be a less healthy and more costly population, thus increasing overall Medicare costs, as well as premiums for all beneficiaries."