En español | For nearly 50 years, AARP has been fighting to protect and improve Medicare. We're committed to ensuring that Medicare continues to guarantee that future seniors have access to affordable, high quality health care while improving the program's efficiency and cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse.
AARP is working to ensure that Americans have a voice in any debate about the future of Medicare and Social Security. That's why we've launched You’ve Earned a Say, a national conversation about how to strengthen both programs so today's seniors — as well as future retirees — will receive the benefits they’ve worked for and count on. Join the Conversation Now: You've Earned a Say.
Americans have been paying into Medicare with the promise of guaranteed health coverage when they retire. But Medicare is facing serious long-term financial challenges, especially with rising health costs and an aging population. Medicare trust fund revenues are projected to be depleted in 2024, at which time it will no longer be able to pay for all promised hospital benefits. Medicare needs to be put on stable ground for the future, but any effort to strengthen it must address rising costs throughout the health care system. By improving the efficiency of care and eliminating fraud, waste and abuse, we can help ensure that future generations will have access to guaranteed affordable health care.
Our Medicare values
AARP has a long history of supporting proposals to strengthen Medicare and opposing those that undermine the health security of seniors and future generations. Throughout the debate in Washington over how to strengthen Medicare, AARP will fight to ensure that any final plan is based on these critical values:
- Medicare should be strengthened and improved so both current and future generations can count on having access to high quality, affordable coverage.
- Medicare should continue to guarantee a specific set of benefits that are affordable and meet a person’s health care needs.
- Medicare should offer choices that ensure access to high quality health care.
- Medicare should improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care by emphasizing value and cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse.
Why Medicare matters
Medicare is the foundation of health security in retirement for most Americans. Today, nearly 50 million Americans rely on Medicare for their basic health coverage. Workers pay into Medicare throughout their working lives so that people age 65 and older, as well as individuals with disabilities, have guaranteed health coverage. Worker payments, plus general government funds and payments from people in Medicare (such as through premiums, copays and deductibles) finance Medicare and the health benefits that people count on as they age.
But Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for all health care needs. In fact, there are some big gaps in coverage, and the typical senior still spends nearly 20 percent of his or her income on medical expenses, including premiums, copays and coinsurance charges, each of which is rising alongside other health care costs. The average out-of-pocket health care costs for people with Medicare is about $4,600 a year, and that amount does not even include most of the costs associated with long-term care, which when needed can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.