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Few Support Immediate Changes for Medicare, Social Security

Thousands weigh in on future of safety net programs

Among the other findings:

  • Eighty percent said all future retirees should get the same guaranteed insurance coverage and care that current Medicare enrollees receive. Twenty percent said future retirees should receive a set amount of money to buy their own insurance plan.
  • Fifty-five percent said it's OK for upper-income workers to get higher Social Security benefits because they paid more into the system. Forty-five percent said wealthier people have other sources of retirement income, so they should get less — and maybe nothing — from Social Security.
  • Few people said they think the programs are in such disarray that they should be completely overhauled for future Social Security recipients (8 percent) and future Medicare enrollees (5 percent).
  • Four of 10 said the rising cost of health care is the most significant challenge facing Medicare. Other issues identified as Medicare's biggest challenge include the growing population of older people and longer retirement (17 percent) and that premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are too high (14 percent).
  • About half said the biggest challenge facing Social Security is the lack of people paying into the program: Thirty-one percent said higher-paid workers aren't contributing enough; 20 percent said fewer workers are paying into the program.

"I think the survey results are pretty reflective of where people are in their lives," said Craig Eichelman, AARP Missouri state director.

"The older members seem to think there are less problems with Medicare. And younger members are kind of split on how much Medicare is really in crisis and how much of it can be changed to keep it stronger for current and future generations."

Capp said older people "don't want a free ride. We want our money spent wisely."

DeAnn Smith is a writer living in Independence, Mo.

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