Many of us appear to want to as much as we can get without planning or paying for it. We hate taxes, but we want a lot done for us anyway. A distant relative says about Medicare, “I deserve every penny I get, I paid for it.” My answer, yes she deserves every penny she gets, but no, she did not pay for it all.
Most people love Medicare and want every benefit imaginable (and believe me, I do because I am close to applying for it), but lots of people do not want to pay over our working lives anywhere near what the benefits will cost. This is NOT a criticism of Medicare. It is a criticism of people in my generation and younger who are not yet retired and also not willing to pay more to improve the pay/receive ratio for their future Medicare benefits.
I’ve cut out a small section of my Social Security/Medicare summary showing how much I’ve contributed to the two programs over my working life as a teacher (only two years of not working since college) and about seven years away from retirement.
To Medicare I’ve paid, and my employers on my behalf, about $43,000 (see above). Actuaries predict a person my age will cost a lot more, maybe twice that, when I begin drawing Medicare benefits. So if we really want all the Medicare benefits, and I do, how come we are not telling the politicians to get their acts together and tell us to pay up for this amazing benefit?
As the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want.” I worry that pretty soon we won’t be able to get much of what we want; we’ll get just what we pay for, because many people in the U.S. keep letting wimpy politicians convince us that we don’t need to plan for or pay for what we use.
- Bottom line: You want good benefits when you retire? You pay more taxes.
- Bottom line #2: Occasionally things get adjusted — up and down — for everyone, young and old. Without the occasional agreed-upon adjustments, the radical politicians scare people about the future, but the real goal of these politicos is to make things go down dramatically and maybe even destroy the Medicare program.
The MedicareBlogger at the TusconCitizen.com newspaper has an interesting column that every adult child and senior should read. Her February 28, 2011 post, Part D and the Deficit, describes the process that brought us the Part D prescription benefits, as well as the politics that basically increased and added benefits while disregarding (blew off, actually) the true cost. When the chief actuary at HHS tried to share and publish correct information, he was told he would be fired. Read her complete article and follow the MedicareBlogger links at the post.