House and Senate Democrats have introduced a plan to expand Medicare coverage by allowing Americans between 50 and 65 years old the option to purchase Medicare. The bill would give these individuals the ability to purchase Medicare on the health insurance marketplace. Like purchasing a private plan off the marketplace, individuals would pay a premium for coverage, but could obtain tax credits based on their income to help offset the premium price.
Supporters of the plan claim it will broadly lower costs. As older (and generally, sicker) individuals move out of the private insurance risk poll, premiums for those remaining in the private insurance risk pool would be reduced; as those individuals move into Medicare and lower the average age of the Medicare risk pool, Medicare costs would likewise be reduced. Opponents, however, claim that this plan would increase financial pressure on hospitals and other medical providers, as Medicare does not usually reimburse providers as much as private insurers do.
Recent polling shows that nearly 8 in 10 Americans approve of this “Medicare-at-50” plan. This bill also allows Democrats to test the waters as many Democratic presidential hopefuls are pushing the Medicare expansion further by promoting a “Medicare-for-All” plan.