About half of Michiganders who answered a recent AARP questionnaire on the future of Medicare and Social Security said some changes are needed to keep these important programs stable but major reforms aren’t required for a few years.
Asked about sustaining Medicare, 48 percent of Michigan respondents said make some minor changes now but wait before making major changes. Also, 19 percent said major changes are needed now; 18 percent said wait a few years to reform the program; and 15 percent said no changes are needed to keep Medicare stable. More than 83,000 Michigan residents completed the questionnaire.
More than six in 10 state respondents said the correct approach to fixing Medicare includes a balance of revenue and benefit changes, while one-third said Medicare is too important to consider major changes and 5 percent said the system is so broken it should be completely changed for future retirees.
The rising cost of health care was the most often cited challenge facing Medicare – 38 percent gave this response. Other challenges: the growing senior population and longer retirements (18 percent); high costs of Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses (16 percent); payroll taxes not keeping up with Medicare needs (10 percent); and seniors receiving more in benefits than they pay in (5 percent). Another 14 percent answered “none of the above.”
Eight in 10 Michigan respondents said all future retirees should continue to get guaranteed Medicare coverage as seniors do now, while 20 percent said future retirees should get a set amount of money to choose among many insurance plans.
Asked about Social Security, 49 percent called for small changes right away, but wait to make major changes; 21 percent preferred making major fixes now; 16 percent opted for waiting a few years; and 13 percent said no changes in the program are needed. Nearly 41,000 Michiganders completed the Social Security questionnaire.
Nearly two-thirds said Social Security needs a balanced approach of benefit and revenue changes, while 26 percent said the program is too important to consider major benefit changes and 8 percent said the system is beyond repair and should be completely changed for future retirees.
The biggest challenge facing Social Security, Michiganders said, is higher paid workers not paying enough into the program (31 percent); the growing senior population and longer retirements (23 percent); fewer workers paying into the system (21 percent); benefits are not adequate (14 percent); and benefits are too generous (3 percent). Another 8 percent chose none of these responses.
Two-thirds of respondents said benefits should be improved for vulnerable seniors, widows and caregivers, but not before the program is put on stable ground.
And a majority, 54 percent, said everyone should get the benefits they’ve earned so it’s OK for higher income workers to get higher benefits because they paid in more.