In This Chapter
Reworking how Medicare operates
Adjusting what beneficiaries pay
In 2011, when the first baby boomer turned 65, the Medicare population numbered 47.6 million. In 2030, when the last boomer signs up, it will top 81 million. You may imagine this process as a boa constrictor swallowing a goat; it puts enormous pressure on the system. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the future of Medicare is increasingly a contentious topic of debate in Congress and among health policy experts.
One question is whether Medicare can stay financially viable under its current funding arrangements so that older and disabled Americans will continue to receive the same benefits in the near and far future. The other question is whether the country can afford to continue subsidizing the program as it now does while its costs swell to consume ever greater proportions of the nation’s economy — 5.4 percent in 2035 and rising to 6.9 percent by 2088, according to estimates in the 2014 Medicare Trustees report.