Despite reaching the Medicare-eligibility age on his 65th birthday today, Mitt Romney will keep his private insurance and forgo the social safety net, a Romney aide said today.
The GOP presidential front-runner has used Medicare as a campaign issue, proposing to curtail future benefits for wealthy people like him so "lower-income seniors would receive the most generous benefits."
Romney has proposed raising the eligibility age for all Americans to enroll in Medicare. But his proposed changes, outlined at a speech in Detroit last month, would not take place until 2022, and so would not affect anyone now approaching Medicare or Social Security. He proposes tying the future enrollment age for Medicare to the average life expectancy of Americans.
Romney's proposal for 2022 is for the United States to "gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age by one month each year. In the long run, the eligibility ages for both programs will be indexed to longevity so that they increase only as fast as life expectancy."
Beneficiaries now have a seven-month window to enroll: three months before their birth month, the month of their birthday, and three months after their birthday. So that would mean Romney would have through June to enroll if he changes his mind. Most adults use the Social Security Administration website to enroll for their benefits, but others go to local district offices.
About 49 million Americans get some or all of their health insurance through Medicare, either because they are older than 65 or have disabilities.