New Report Warns Medicare and Social Security Running Out of Cash

10 Juin, 2018, 08:26 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Social Security must reduce benefits in 2034 if reforms aren’t made

If that doesn't sound dire enough, in their annual report, the Social Security trustees said that Medicare's hospital insurance fund will be depleted in 2026, reserves for the fund that pays disability benefits would be emptied in 2032, and all Social Security reserves would be exhausted by 2034.

Program trustees say Medicare will become insolvent in 2026 - three years earlier than previously forecast - and Social Security in 2034.

The program's trustees board consists of the heads of the Treasury, Labor, Health and Human Services and Social Security departments, as well as two public member positions that remain vacant.

That's what the Social Security and Medicare trustees projected in their 2018 annual report released Tuesday. But, hey, they only need three-quarters of their food, home, and medical coverage, right? However, certain long-term issues persist.

The report said the less favorable outlook for Medicare's hospital trust fund resulted from "adverse changes" in program income and costs.

"The Part B and Part D accounts in the [Supplementary Medical Insurance] trust fund are expected to be adequately financed because premium income and general revenue income are reset each year to cover expected costs", the report stated.

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The twin warnings come as Congress has cut revenue and boosted spending - moves that, analysts say, will leave the government's finances struggling for years to come.

For the first time since 1982 Social Security's costs will exceed its payroll income plus interest from the $2.9 trillion trust funds. "Lack-luster economic growth in previous years, coupled with an aging population, has contributed to the projected shortages for both Social Security and Medicare".

But federal deficits keep rising, and the recent Republican tax-cut bill is only expected to add to the debt.

Of the two programs, Medicare faces the greatest fiscal challenges as medical costs increase and the USA ages, with many baby boomers set to retire in the next several years. It will decline further to about 2.2 by 2035, when most baby boomers will have retired, officials said. And the number of people on Social Security is expected to climb to 91 million, from 62 million, in the same period.

Medicare costs will rise from last year's 3.7 percent of GDP to 5.8 percent by 2038. That works out to about $31 a month. General revenues will finance roughly three-quarters of SMI costs, and premiums paid by beneficiaries nearly all of the remaining quarter.

The annual funding update marks the first such report since Congress did away with that panel, which was created to cut Medicare costs if spending grew too fast.

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