The Congressional Budget Office released on Jan. 11 an issue brief describing the effect of increases in the eligibility ages for Social Security and Medicare. The CBO found that raising the Medicare eligibility age or the early or full eligibility age for Social Security would reduce federal spending and limit the number of people with access to health insurance.

While the retirement age under Social Security's Old-Age and Survivors Insurance program has been increasing slowly since 2000, the Medicare eligibility age has remained the same since the program began in 1966. Raising the Medicare eligibility age, which is currently 65, would reduce the number of people eligible for benefits, although CBO expects "most people affected by the change would obtain health insurance from other sources," such as employers or other government programs. Federal spending on those other programs would offset the savings incurred by raising the Medicare age.

Furthermore, many of the people who would have enrolled in Medicare at 65 would face higher premiums, higher out-of-pocket costs, or both, the CBO predicts.

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