The health insurance program for seniors is the nation’s biggest financial challenge.
The first of 77 million Baby Boomers turn 65 this year and qualify for Medicare. Enrollment will grow from 48 million in 2010 to 64 million in 2020 and 81 million in 2030, according to Medicare actuaries. That 33-million increase in the next 20 years compares with 13 million in the last 20.
This demographic burst ”” combined with the addition of a prescription drug benefit in 2006 and rising health care costs generally ”” has created an unfunded liability of nearly $25 trillion over the lifetime of those now in the program as workers and retirees. That is the taxpayers’ obligation, beyond what Medicare taxes will bring in or seniors will pay in premiums for Medicare Part B ”” also called supplemental coverage ”” that helps pay for doctor visits and other expenses outside the hospital.