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Online Chat: The Future of Medicare and Social Security

Missed the July 27 conversation? Read the transcript

The problem is that the rest of the government has run up large debt, making it more difficult to repay all bondholders, including Social Security. However, we agree Social Security must be paid back and that Social Security should not be cut in order to address the deficit in the rest of the federal budget. It is worth noting that for over 75 years, in good times and bad, Social Security has never missed one benefit payment.

Comment From Guest: Seniors need help now in closing the prescription doughnut hole, not in 2020. Seniors who fall into the doughnut hole have chronic illnesses and do not need to be paying thousands of dollars for their medications a year. The pharmicutical companies are becoming richer and the middle class seniors are being drained of any savings for retirement with the doughnut hole. The seniors in the doughnut holes are the ones saying they can afford either food or their medicine but are struggling with paying for both. For a drug company to charge approximately $3,500 to $4,000 a month for a single medication is unbelievable. Seniors need help by closing the doughnut hole now.

David Certner, AARP:  Thanks for the question. We have heard for years from those struggling to pay their drug costs — and several million seniors with Medicare Part D fall into the doughnut hole each year.

But the new law has helped — already in 2012, 1 million people have saved an average of over $600 in drug discounts. And the new law is now gradually closing the coverage gap entirely. Both brand-name and generic drugs are discounted in the doughnut hole.

Also, please ask your doctor and pharmacist about lower-cost drugs that might work for you. With different prescriptions, maybe you can delay reaching the doughnut hole, or avoid reaching it entirely. Use AARP’s “Doughnut Hole Calculator” to help you learn more.

Also, the new health law includes provisions that will help lead to the approval of less expensive generic versions of biologic drugs — such as many cancer treatments — which represent many of the most expensive drugs on the market. You can be sure that AARP will continue to actively work to help lower prescription drug costs.

Comment From Pat Sherr: Is it true Medicare insurance premiums will be $120.20 in 2013 and $247 in 2014?

David Certner, AARP:  Thanks, Pat. We've been hearing this one a lot. Reports that current Medicare premiums will double or triple in 2014 are simply not true. Rumors such as these may have been started to scare people.

Next: Why not put Social Security into private accounts? »

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