Hatch Says Medicare Eligibility Age Should Be Set At 67

Senate Finance Committee ranking minority member Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) wants Medicare's eligibility age hiked from 65 to 67, saying it must keep pace with increases in longevity in the population.  

Hatch said the change should be considered in a legislative package to reduce the federal budget deficit that may be considered this year. He also said Medicare should be reformed in other ways, including eliminating first-dollar Medigap coverage.  

"When Medicare was created in 1965, the average life expectancy was 70 years,” Hatch said in a press release. “In 2009 it stood at 78 years. Currently, 41 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are 75 years and older and account for 50 percent of total spending in the program.”  

Critics of raising the age say it that while it may cut Medicare costs initially, it will raise them in the long-run as more older people go without insurance, go without needed care, and come onto Medicare with more health care needs.