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You’ve Earned a Say

Online Chat: The Future of Medicare and Social Security

Missed the July 27 conversation? Read the transcript

First, during the first year that you are newly enrolled in Medicare, you are eligible for a Welcome to Medicare wellness visit at no charge to you. During this visit, you will receive a physical examination that will give you and your doctor a sense of your current health status and what you need to work on to maintain your health.

After that, you will be entitled to a checkup every year where you and your doctor can work together to set personal health goals — again, at no cost to you.

Finally, the health reform law allows Medicare beneficiaries to receive many preventive services at no charge. This means that you will not have to meet a deductible or pay any cost sharing when you receive services such as flu shots, mammograms and certain cancer screenings.

We're going to take a question from Dusty on Twitter: How can we keep doctors from leaving Medicare?

One big problem is the Medicare payment rate for physicians. The formula for paying doctors is broken, and it has led to potential big cuts that Congress has had to override every year for the last decade. In fact, doctors are once again facing a big pay cut that Congress must stop by year end. We need to fix the payment formula to ensure a more stable payment rate — one that encourages quality care — and that will help keep doctors in Medicare.

Comment From Ken: The Social Security retirement age should be increased to 67 in two phases. Does AARP support this? If not, why not?

David Certner, AARP:  Ken, thank you for your question.

The full retirement age for Social Security is already gradually increasing to age 67 on a schedule set by Congress in 1983. Today it is 66, but it will be 67 for people born in 1960 or later. Increasing the full retirement age further is an option that some have proposed.

Of course, this option raises difficult questions about what to do about people who can’t work longer either because of poor health or lack of employment opportunities. As part of You’ve Earned a Say, we are interested in hearing what you think about this and other proposals. Again, for a more complete discussion of the various proposals that are being discussed in Washington — including the arguments for and against raising the retirement age — check out AARP’s website www.earnedasay.org.

Comment From Linda Rather: What are the most likely things being considered for strengthening Social Socurity and Medicare? Who will make the final decision?

Next: What about 'means testing' whereby depending on your personal wealth your earned Social Security benefits would be reduced or eliminated? »

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