U.S. Medicare reserves seen lasting three years less than prior forecast

U.S. Medicare reserves seen lasting three years less than prior forecast

The U.S. government's healthcare program for the elderly will exhaust its reserves for hospital insurance in 2026, three years earlier than last year's forecast, the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees said in a report on Tuesday.

Costs to the fund will also be slightly higher than last year's estimates, "mostly due to higher-than-expected spending in 2017, legislation that increased hospital spending and higher Medicare Advantage payments", the trust fund report said.

This is the first time that's happened since the Reagan admin.

"However, certain long-term issues persist", the statement added.

The White House claims the long-running economic boom will help secure Medicare and Social Security's future. After that, the government predicts it will be able to pay 91 percent of promised benefits. Social Security and Medicare probably will never run out of money, in the sense that no Congress or president would let benefit checks be cut.

They attributed the circumstances to last year's lower-than-expected wages, revenue-cutting legislation, heightened spending and an aging US population.

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The trustees report is considered an annual wake-up call for the beleaguered programs, though consensus around ways to secure their future remains elusive.

During the year, an estimated 174 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes on those earnings. Charles Schumer of NY, the Democratic leader.

A major reason for Social Security's long-term financial problems is a decline in the number of workers for each beneficiary. The ratio of workers to beneficiaries fell to 3.3 in 2005 and then to 2.8 in 2016.

Medicare's problems are widely seen as more hard to solve. The aging population has squeezed the program, pushing costs up and revenues down.

Additionally, President Trump's decision to end a program offering young undocumented immigrants reprieve from deportation while allowing them to work reduced anticipated tax revenue into the Social Security program. The system's costs exceeded its income in 1982, but a bipartisan compromise the following year led to additional revenue and benefit reductions.

Information for this article was contributed by Robert Pear of The New York Times, and by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press.

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