Silver Tsunami: Alaska now has 100,000 Medicare enrollees - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Silver Tsunami: Alaska now has 100,000 Medicare enrollees

In September of 2018, Alaska was home to 97,301 residents enrolled in Medicare, the health care program that serves residents ages 65 and above.

Today, Alaska has just tipped over the 100,000 mark, a threshold it’s never reached before. The state’s population is getting older as Baby Boomers cross over into senior citizen status, and seniors try to stay in the state for as long as they can.

Medicare beneficiaries now make up 14 percent of the state’s total population, just under the rest of the U.S., where they make up 15 percent.

Today, one in nearly seven Alaskans is enrolled in the health care program that was created by President Johnson in 1965 for those over the age of 65.

The population of Alaska more than doubled in last 40 years, increasing at more than four times the rate of the rest of the country. In 2010, Alaska was home to 55,000 senior citizens. In nine years, that number has nearly doubled.

2019 is shaping up to be the ninth year in a row that Alaska has had the fastest growing population of those over 65.

Most people become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65, and most who turn 65 are forced to enroll in the program or pay a hefty penalty to the federal government. For many, it’s not a free program — elders have to pay a premium to the federal government and it often comes out of their Social Security check. It can cost them $135 a month for Part B Medicare, which pays for doctor’s services and outpatient care. Recipients have typically also paid into Medicare for most of their working lives.

Medicare coverage is also available to people who are disabled. In Alaska, 14 percent are eligible as a result of a disability or permanent kidney failure.

As for communities with the most Medicare enrollees, Anchorage is the largest, with more than 38,495 enrolled as of July, 2018, an increase of 1,556 from the prior year. Fairbanks North Star Borough is down by 139 Medicare enrollees since last year. The Mat-Su went from 13,986 Medicare enrollees to 14,665 in the past year.

According to the Institute on Aging, America’s 65-and-over population will nearly double over the next three decades, from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Hello fellow Boomers! I was born in 1956. I believe Eisenhower was our President at the time, a WW2 general who established his competency under fire. Our victory over Hitler and subsequent problems with Stalin began the Cold War. And now we are here today 63 years later. Wow, who would have ever thought we would make it this far?
    Anyway, almost to Medicare age and feeling very lucky to benefit in a few years from the social welfare system.
    Medicaid is a whole different thing and the incentives to qualify for free government health care continue to increase. The system will ultimately fail under the pressure of producers paying for the customers of free government health care. Maybe the answer really is Soylent Green? At least we Boomers will contribute something?

    • Nyman, “Medicare is funded by the Social Security Administration. Which means it’s funded by taxpayers: We all pay 1.45% of our earnings into FICA – Federal Insurance Contributions Act – which go toward Medicare. Employers pay another 1.45%, bringing the total to 2.9%.” So, you see, it’s not FREE.

    • Seriously do your research it is not “free” “social welfare”; Medicare is funded by the Social Security Administration. Which means it’s funded by taxpayers: We all pay 1.45% of our earnings into FICA – Federal Insurance Contributions Act – which go toward Medicare. Employers pay another 1.45%, bringing the total to 2.9%

    • Boomers defeated Hitler? Now I’ve seen everything.

      .

      Your dad’s were in such a hurry to make you they couldn’t help but make the world safe for Communism?

  • Getting old is a craven leftist plot! I’m certain that Soros has something to do with this; it can’t demographics…

  • I think if you lived here long enough and did your part to contribute this great state you deserve it. I came up here in 1978 and never looked back.
    My hair was thicker and longer and my dreams were simple.
    What bothers me know is our state becoming dumping ground for people who bring their elderly and makes up pay for their care. It’s just not wright.

    • The hit must have settled in during your last sentence. Or, the Jim Beam.

  • One more branch of our Social Welfare State. No, It is not Free.
    Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris (Black’s Law Dictionary–sui juris, I’m not under any legal disability. I can speak in my own behalf.)

  • Break out the woodchippers!

    It’s the only way to prosper.

  • Chris, Ike was never in a combat situation, he was a clerical aide during WWI Stateside, unlike Patton and Truman who were in Combat.

  • So now we have over 100,000 Alaskans who are treated like second-class citizens when it comes to health care. Until reimbursement rates are based on prevailing costs, instead of a one-size-fits-all formula, those on Medicare will find that the office doors of many doctors are closed to them. The number of doctors opting out of Medicare will only continue to increase.

  • Don’t worry. A couple normal winters will run many out.

  • Health insurance is what drove up health care cost! Health care is a personal choice and health insurance is not heath care.

    Cash payment for healthcare is cheaper than healthcare premiums and deductibles.

    Financial education and personally saving for healthcare from 18 years of age (just like as saving for retirement at that age) would be the solution.

    If we did that the cost for true healthcare would go down. Simultaneously change the medical malpractice laws. while some would need charity care the public would have more money of their own and Americans are a truly generous people.

    We should return to being free people but the required self responsibility.

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