Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Opening Up Medicare: A Solution for Unemployment?

Two separate issues are taking up a lot of time lately in DC. In the Senate the Public Option, a federally funded medical insurance plan that the insurance industry just hates appears to have been switched out for an intriguing plan to expand Medicare coverage for those Americans age 55 and over. Not full blown Medicare, mind you, but a plan to let sub-seniors buy into the plan.

Apparently this idea has legs, maybe because the insurance industry has been dealing with Medicare for 34 years now and this is the devil that they know.

The other thing that seems to be gaining momentum is a renewed undertaking to ease the unemployment situation, a problem that has not responded to federal stimulus like the financial sector has.

So we had an Obama “job summit” that, as reported in the Huffington Post, resulted in “a proposal for a battery of necessary and unsurprising, but probably not sufficient, recommendations.” On top of that we had a house bill proposed that would redirect unspent TARP funds to fund such things as small businesses, teacher salaries and highway construction. A direct infusion of funds to stimulate job creation.

But I wonder if anyone has yet realized that the Medicare for 55 years old people and jobs creation, seemingly two separate efforts, are really something akin to synergy when viewed in combination.

If they haven’t yet, anyone in the over 55 age group will now stop and ask themselves why they continue to work, especially if the only reason for working is to have a decent health insurance benefits package at an affordable cost. And in doing so, how many will conclude that early retirement, once a pipe dream, is now a reality.

Making their job, whatever it is, available to those under 55 who still need to work to live.

I wonder how many will jump at this chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor earlier than planned, simply because their health benefits can be switched to the government (aka Single Payer) plan?

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