“Medicare, one of the federal government’s largest programs, provides health care benefits primarily to elderly people. The usual age of eligibility for those benefits is 65, although certain people qualify for the program earlier. (Medicare is available to people under age 65 who have been eligible for Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months or who have end-stage renal disease.) Outlays for Medicare are projected to increase rapidly in coming decades because of the retirement of the baby-boom generation and because growth in per capita spending for health care is expected to continue to exceed growth in per capita gross domestic product over the long term. Moreover, increases in life expectancy mean that the average length of time that people are covered by Medicare has risen significantly since the program began in 1965. That trend, which increases the program’s costs, will almost certainly continue. In the course of preparing its forthcoming report on options for reducing the budget deficit, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) updated its analysis of an option to raise the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67. The agency’s new estimate of the net budgetary savings from that option is much lower than its earlier estimates for proposals to raise Medicare’s eligibility age. This report describes CBO’s new estimate and the reasons for the change.”
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