It's time for baby boomers to start getting Medicare benefits

Three women hold signs supporting social security and medicare.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Well when the clock strikes midnight tonight in Estonia that country will become the 17th using the Euro currency. And at midnight here in the U.S. it'll be 65 years since the first baby boomer was born. That means it'll be time for the boomers to start getting Medicare benefits.

Marketplace's David Gura reports.


DAVID GURA: Over the next two decades, the number of Medicare recipients is expected to doubt -- to about 80 million. Tim McBride teaches public health at Washington University, in St. Louis.

TIM MCBRIDE: I don't think we, as a country, have faced that issue straight on yet.

Jonathan Oberlander agrees. He's a professor at UNC -- Chapel Hill.

JONATHAN OBERLANDER: There's no doubt that there are going to be serious challenges in financing it, and serious challenges in controlling healthcare spending.

The new healthcare reform law created the Independent Payment Advisory Board, to come up with new ways to control Medicare spending. Oberlander says that's still not enough. Medicare's gonna need more money. And the cost of care has to go down.

OBERLANDER: I think if we don't get a hold of healthcare costs more generally in the U.S. healthcare system, it's probably going to limit how successful Medicare can be.

If the cost of healthcare doesn't change, taxes would have to go up. And in this political climate, that'd be a pretty tough challenge.

In Washington, I'm David Gura, for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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