Many Boomers Skeptical of Medicare’s Future

December 29, 2010 ( – Forty-three percent of Baby Boomers in a recent poll say they won't be able to depend on Medicare forever, while only 20% think their Medicare is secure.

An Associated Press news story about the new Associated Press-GfK survey reported that 63% of boomers in the poll dismissed the idea of raising the eligibility age to keep Medicare afloat financially. But when the survey forced them to choose between raising the age or cutting benefits, 59% said raise the age and keep the benefits.

The poll also found differences by age, gender and income among baby boomers. For example, baby boom women, who can expect to live longer than both their mothers and their husbands, are much more pessimistic than men about the program’s future.

Some leading Republicans and a few Democrats have called for phasing out the program and instead giving each retiree a fixed payment — or voucher _to help them buy private medical insurance of their choice. The poll found doubts about the idea, and a generational debate. Overall, a narrow majority (51%) of respondents opposed the voucher plan. But those born after 1980 favored it by 47% to 41%, while seniors opposed it 4-to-1. A majority of boomers were also opposed, with 43% strongly objecting.

Sixty-one percent of Americans overall favored raising Medicare taxes to avoid a cut in benefits.  When forced to choose, even a majority of Republicans said they would rather pay higher taxes (53%) than cut benefits (38%). Among adults in their 20s, who’d face a whole career paying higher taxes, 61% said they would be willing to pay more to preserve benefits. Only 29% of boomers said keep taxes the same but cut benefits.

Fifty-four percent of survey participants also favored requiring people on Medicare to pay higher copayments and deductibles so that payments to doctors don’t have to be cut. Support was surprisingly strong among seniors, 62% of whom said they’d be willing to pay more so that doctors’ fees don’t have to be cut and more doctors keep accepting Medicare payments.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted November 18-22, 2010, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide.