Medicare Brief No. 18 ~ March 2008
Summary: Each year Medicare’s Board of Trustees issues a report that describes the financial condition of the Medicare program in the near term and over the next 75 years. Similar to recent trustees reports, the 2008 report projects that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be depleted in 2019, at which time scheduled income will cover 78 percent of expenditures. Looking at these projections, some observers contend that Medicare must be fundamentally restructured in order to put the program—and the overall federal budget—on a sound fiscal course. Others point out that Medicare spending has grown at about the same rate as spending for private health insurance and argue that it is impossible to limit spending on Medicare without also slowing the growth of private health care costs or abandoning equal access to care for the aged and disabled.