NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 23, 2013

Entitlement, yes, but it's not free


Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Please let me offer an edit to the closing sentence of your positive and progressive opinion, editorial of Oct. 16, re: “Coping With Our Graying Population.”

“... and government leaders need to plan for the future, taking steps to make sure preparations are made for a graying population.” I would say “and government leaders need to pay for the future, taking steps to make sure payments are made for a graying population.”

Who better to pay for the future than those who will be beneficiaries of graying in the future?

FICA. No, it’s not a credit rating score, it’s the federal Insurance Contributions Act. If one pays premiums for insurance, you become “entitled” to the benefits of that policy. I think the word “entitlement” is being misrepresented as being “free.” (So too, “small business” is being misrepresented, when it effectively includes all those with 100 employees, or less.) Is there truly anyone who has received SS retirement benefits for three years who object to having contributed from their paycheck earnings?

Is there truly anyone who has been a Medicare enrollee for three years who object to having contributed from their paycheck earnings?

Weal. Not in current common usage, but it’s the foundation of our government to provide for the commonweal. Who better to support that goal than those who benefit.

If the workforce wages had increased, and had not seriously regressed for too many years, there would have been sufficient contributions to fund their retirement benefits.

If one had not contributed and is age eligible, Medicare Part A is available for purchase at $451 per month ($5,412 per year). If one contributed to Medicare, the full extent since inception, Medicare is still not “free.”

Part B costs Medicare enrollees $99.90 per month ($1,200 per year). Understanding that Medicare pays but 80 percent of covered expenses, one may opt to purchase “supplemental” coverage, Part C, at varying rates, but for sure, $189.50 will do it ($2,274 per year).

And of course, there is the optional Prescription Drug Part D plan, available in varying coverages and costs to suit your needs, to add to your Medicare expenses.

Thus, Medicare insurance coverage for Parts A, B and C costs $8,886 per year for a non-contributor, costs $3,474 per year for a contributor, each of whom must add the cost of their own choice of Part D Prescription Drug Plan coverage.

Yes, one may argue the myriad of nuances and options and copays and deductibles, etc., but no matter what, they all cost, and they aren’t “free.” This should reasonably represent what those Medicare costs are!

Joseph E. “Joe” Kelleher

Amesbury