Here’s your Medicare myth of the day: It turns out that a majority of Americans believe that retirees get about as much from Medicare as they pay in during their lifetimes. Or maybe even less.
As it turns out, this is precisely the opposite of the truth. The best estimate out there suggests that a single male will pay $60,000 in Medicare taxes over his lifetime and receive $170,000 in benefits during retirement.1 That’s a 3:1 benefit ratio—and the numbers are more favorable for women and way more favorable for couples. Medicare is just about the most amazing bargain imaginable. Most of us don’t come within a country mile of actually paying for all the care we get.
I’ve had a guy in his 80’s, who’s had a quadruple bypass and a bunch of other expensive procedures, tell me that he “paid for” his Medicare. This little bit of ignorance is the foundation underneath all the teabagger fairy tales about Medicare not being a “government program”. These people honestly believe that the relative pittance they’ve paid over their lives (especially considering that many of them started paying in their 40’s and 50’s) makes their Medicare something other than what they would call a “handout”.
As long as Medicare Exceptionalism persists in the minds of voters, Democrats are waging class warfare with one hand tied behind their backs. By the Republicans’ own definition, pretty much everyone over 65, otherwise know as “the Republican base”, is a moocher or a looter, as bad or worse than young bucks buying T-bones with food stamps. It’s just that their chosen conveyance is a welfare Rascal instead of a welfare Cadillac.