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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Poll: Baby Boomers Fear Outliving Medicare Benefits


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The first baby boomers will be old enough to qualify for Medicare Jan. 1, and many fear the program's obituary will be written before their own.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that baby boomers believe by a ratio of 2-to-1 they won't be able to rely on the giant health insurance plan throughout their retirement.
The boomers took a running dive into adolescence and went on to redefine work and family, but getting old is making them nervous.
Now, forty-three percent say they don't expect to be able to depend on Medicare forever, while only 20 percent think their Medicare is secure. The rest have mixed feelings.

Here's the math: when the last of the boomers reaches age 65 in about two decades, Medicare will be covering more than 80 million people. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying taxes to support the program will have plunged from 3.5 for each person receiving benefits currently, to 2.3.

The government can't balance its books without dealing with health care costs, and Medicare is in the middle. Some leading Republicans and a few Democrats have called for phasing out the program and instead giving each retiree a fixed payment _ or voucher _to help them buy private medical insurance of their choice. The poll found doubts about the idea, and a generational debate.

Overall, a narrow majority (51 percent) of Americans opposed the voucher plan. But those born after 1980 favored it by 47 percent to 41 percent, while seniors opposed it 4-to-1. A majority of boomers were also opposed, with 43 percent strongly objecting.
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