Public health policies include laws, regulations and rules, both formal and informal that impact on social, economic or the physical environment conditions, leading to the adoption of behaviors conducive to health. Medicare has multiple policies. Over the recent past, questions have arisen as to whether some of these policies need changes. Some of the policies include those affecting the eligibility age for Medicare and the means testing of medical care benefits. This paper focuses on the need for the adjustment and incorporation of appropriate changes with regards to the two major policies of eligibility age and means testing of Medicare.
The limited availability of private health care led to the formation of medical care in 1965 (What is Medicare / Medicaid N.p). At that point in time, the retirement age was 65, as well as life expectancy (Teitelbaum, Joel and Sara 203). From this perspective, life expectancy and age become important as factors to be considered in Medicare review. Today, those over 65 years of age still continue to benefit from Medicare through the provision of the basic health care; to a great extent, it lowers the burden of payment on those who are already living on a limited budget (Kluger 102).
Currently, life expectancy has dramatically increased, and according to Ruggiero (207), life expectancy has increased from 78 years in the year 2008 to 78.2 in year 2009. The increase in life expectancy has been greatly attributed to improved technology. The high prospect of technology advancing in the future will definitely allow the life expectancy to continue rising as well. With this in mind, it would only be prudent to increase the health care age requirement. The health care age requirement would need to be increased on a gradual scale for proper implementation of the changes. Say, every one or two years, the age requirement would rise. From a personal point of view, the most suitable incremental rate would be a year. For instance, if the plan were to begin in 2013, the age requirement would rise to 66 in the subsequent year, and not 65. However, those under Medicare at the age of 65 during the year 2013 would not be affected by the new age requirement. In the long run, the new age would be coped with in the society.
Several factors have led to a healthier older generation: for example, the advent of better pharmaceuticals and improvement of methods employed in medical treatment. Subsequently, working for an extended time is no longer a problem and many people over the age of 65 may still be employed and work and be in a position to assume their employer’s healthcare. Since retirement age and life expectancy have both increased, the medical care age requirement has no option but to increase. The factors that influenced the determination of the medical age requirement at the time of Medicare origin are no longer the same, and there is reason to help those who need it.
Means testing, on the other hand, involves an investigation into a person’s financial stability for the determination of eligibility of help from the government. There is a massive crisis of entitlement spending in America. In the coming years, say ten years, government debt will be greater than the nation’s entire domestic product, and the main driver of the debt will be attributed to entitlement programs (MacQueen and Buehler 204). Because of the aging population and rising health care costs, Medicare has been pushed to the limit. The range of possible solutions has been restricted by depressed federal revenues, budget deficits, just to name a few (Ruggiero 213). There is no more protection of funding or time. The incremental slow and steady increase of the retirement age and the minor modifications in benefit formulas can no longer keep off the impending disaster. It is paramount that policy solutions, once considered unimaginable, must now be entertained…