A recent letter to the Washington Post by an 80 year old man explains how much he has received in benefits compared to what he has put in:
At 80, I am a “poster boy” for what is wrong with Medicare and Social Security. I worked full time from 1950 until 1993, when I retired. I paid the maximum amount annually required by law. My payment from Social Security in 1993 was $1,170 per month, and it now exceeds $1,500. I paid $47,377 into the fund and have so far received more than $288,000 from it.
As for Medicare I paid $14,350 into the fund from 1966 to 1993. I have been very healthy but had cancer several years ago and a craniotomy five years ago. The costs of those exceeded $1 million. Even minor surgery would far exceed what I paid to the fund.
Please tell me how such a system can be sustained. Both programs need to be overhauled now. No one should believe that he has paid for and earned the right to such payments.
Sadly, we have issues with many of our older folks and those preparing to retire. They want government cut down, but insist no one touches their entitlements. AARP is a very powerful lobby, and knows that older people tend to vote. Recently AARP has agreed to changes in Social Security, simply because it sees that boat is coming in, either with or without them. They refused to sign onto a coalition of 300 unions, women, and liberal groups to fight any changes. But they still aren’t ready to change Medicare.
How can we afford such programs if a retiree has put in only a fraction of the amount we pay out? As I explained recently to a 80 year old retiree I know, who was concerned because he wasn’t getting better benefits from Social Security and Medicare: we can’t afford the programs. We can either go bankrupt helping you, or have your children and grandchildren paying for decades to pay off the debt you now incur.
Yes, it seems heartless. It seems unkind to tell the elderly they are going to have to “eat their peas” with the rest of us. But do we spend $1 million on one older person’s heart procedure, or on improving grade schools for little ones who are just starting out in life?
A solution? Turn Medicare into a voucher system useable at any insurance company, with a retired person’s patient bill of rights. Provide them with standard care. If they want more, they and their families are welcome to spend more in insurance for them. But let’s not ask our little ones to be paying for this decades from now.
I find there is no shame in dying when someone is 65 or 70 years of age. I would rather die at 65 than have my nation go belly up in debt.
I am 51 years old. I am willing to do without Social Security and Medicare to save my children and grandchildren? Who else will send such a message to Congress?