What is the right fix to social security? Is there one?


The above chart is taken from the article “Is Obama’s New Index the Right Fix for Social Security?” from the Wall Street Cheat Sheet’s website, which can be viewed below.  It does start one to question just what has Social Security become and how should we fix it?  (If it should be fixed).


Yahoo News: PROMISES, PROMISES: Social Security pledge at risk

<p> FILE - In this July 15, 2011, file photo, members of Progressive Change Campaign Committee upset over potential cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security walk to President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago, to deliver 200,000 signatures from people who are refusing to donate or volunteer for his re-election campaign if Obama cuts entitlement programs. As the population gets older, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are eating up more and more of the federal budget, squeezing the ability of the government to pay for other programs. Today, the three massive benefit programs account for 44 percent of federal spending. Left unchanged, they will account for more than 60 percent in 25 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (AP Photo/David Banks, File)

The issue:

As the population gets older, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are eating up more and more of the federal budget, squeezing the ability of the government to pay for other programs. Today, the three massive benefit programs account for 44 percent of federal spending. Left unchanged, they will account for more than 60 percent in 25 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports Social Security is projected to run out of money in 2033. At that point, the retirement and disability program would collect only enough in payroll taxes to pay about 75 percent of benefits.

Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is in worse shape. It is projected to run out of money in 2024. At that point, it would only be able to pay 87 percent of costs, according to projections by the trustees who oversee Medicare and Social Security.


The campaign promise:

Obama rarely mentioned Social Security during his 2012 re-election campaign. Four years earlier, he was more forthcoming.

In a 2008 speech to AARP: “John McCain’s campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Let me be clear: I will not do either.”

On Medicare, Obama told the Democratic convention on Sept. 6, 2012: “Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more.”


The prospects:

Obama has already offered to break part of his 2008 pledge on Social Security. Twice in negotiations with GOP leaders, he agreed to adopt a new measure of inflation that would result in smaller cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, for Social Security recipients. Both deals fell apart. But now Obama has put forward the idea in his own proposed federal budget. If adopted, it would gradually trim benefit increases in Social Security, Medicare and other programs while raising taxes.

His proposed changes, once phased in, would mean a cut in Social Security benefits of nearly $1,000 a year for an average 85-year-old, $560 for a 75-year-old and $136 for a 65-year-old.

Obama and Republican leaders in Congress have held off-and-on talks about possible changes to entitlement programs since 2011, as part of their efforts to reduce government borrowing. But a deal remains elusive. Republicans insist any agreement must include deep spending cuts, while Obama says any deal must include more tax revenue. And many Democrats in Congress are protective of the entitlement programs that Obama now is willing to touch.


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US News: What Gen X Doesn’t Know About Social Security

Members of Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1976, are planning to collect Social Security at an average age of 65, according to a recent survey. But that could be a mistake. Gen Xers won’t qualify for the full Social Security payments they have earned until age 67. Those who sign up for Social Security at age 65 will get permanently lower payments for the rest of their lives.

The Social Security full retirement age at which you can claim the entire benefit you have earned is 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later. Gen Xers who sign up for Social Security at age 65, as 29 percent plan to do, will see their monthly payments reduced by about 13.3 percent.

A GfK Custom Research North America survey of 1,000 adults ages 36 to 47 commissioned by the MetLife Mature Market Institute found that 18 percent of Gen Xers plan to claim Social Security benefits as soon as they are eligible at age 62. But workers who sign up at this age will see their payments reduced by 30 percent. For example, a worker who would be eligible for $1,000 per month upon retirement at age 67 would get just $700 per month is he signs up for Social Security at age 62. Another 16 percent of people in their late 30s and early 40s simply don’t know when they will start receiving Social Security benefits.

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Motley Fool: Do These Obamacare Winners Look Like Losers Now?

Have the Obamacare winners become losers? When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA, was first passed, most analysts pegged hospital systems as obvious winners from the new law. That viewpoint also held true last year as the Supreme Court upheld much of Obamacare.

The stock market clearly agreed. Immediately after the Supreme Court decision, hospital stocks surged. Community Health Systems  (NYSE: CYH  )  jumped 8%. Health Management Associates  (NYSE: HMA  )  shares rose 7%. The largest private hospital chain, HCA Holdings  (NYSE: HCA  ) , soared by 10%.

Since the high court ruling, few sectors have performed as well as hospitals have. Community Health Systems shares rose as much as 88% by late March. Likewise, HMA stock nearly doubled. HCA shares rose more than 50% during the same period. No hospital stock performed better than Tenet Healthcare  (NYSE: THC  ) , though. Tenet’s shares skyrocketed 140%.

That was then. The performance of these stocks in the month of April thus far tells a much different tale.

Spring backwards? Community Health Systems shares are down almost 13% since the beginning of April. HMA isn’t far behind, with shares falling 12%. HCA stock has dropped 7.5%. What about the biggest winner: Tenet? It’s now the biggest loser, with shares plunging more than 16% this month. Has the luster of Obamacare worn off?

Many hospitals wanted the ACA to succeed. The industry’s lobbying organization, the American Hospital Association, actively supported the legislation and even submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the individual mandate.

The primary reason behind support for the bill stemmed from the prospects of millions of currently uninsured Americans gaining insurance. Many hospitals must write off large amounts of money when individuals with no insurance cannot pay for the care provided. If more people gain insurance under Obamacare, hospitals hope that these write-offs will decrease significantly.

However, many currently uninsured Americans could choose to pay fines rather than obtain insurance. If this scenario becomes widespread, the benefits to hospitals could be dampened.

Others suspect that the costs of the ACA could minimize the advantages for hospitals. Bob Kirby, a director with Fitch Ratings, said last year that “it is unclear if the incremental revenue generated from increased utilization and lower levels of uncompensated care will offset the potential compression in margins.”

All in the timing Obamacare’s timing could also be problematic. Even if millions of uninsured Americans buy insurance as hoped for, that scenario won’t happen until 2014. In the meantime, hospitals are dealing with some of the challenges of the ACA.

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The Motley Fool: Obamacare and Sequestration Crush UnitedHealth

In this video, health-care analyst David Williamson discusses how Obamacare and sequestration are weighing on shares of insurer UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH) . David breaks the managed care company’s quarter into Clint Eastwood-inspired good, bad, and ugly segments, helping investors in UnitedHealth, and related stocks, to find out everything they need to know from this bellwether’s earnings, and what to expect going forward.

When President Obama was re-elected, shares of UnitedHealth and other health insurers fell immediately. Is Obamacare a death knell for health insurers, or is the market missing out on some of the opportunities the law presents? In this brand new premium report on UnitedHealth, The Motley Fool takes a long term view, honing in on prospects for UnitedHealth in a post-Obamacare world. So don’t miss out — simply click here now to claim your copy today.

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CNBC Guide to Obamacare for Small Businesses

Even as you finish with this year’s taxes, if you’re a small-business owner experts say it’s time to look ahead to 2014, when the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begin to kick in.

“Just now, things are really sinking in that there is this employer responsibility,” said Amanda Austin, of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Under ACA, often called Obamacare, employers with 50 or more full-time workers face a mandate to provide insurance. It’s known formally as shared responsibility.

“You’re going to need somebody to do a thorough review of the impact on your business,” Austin said, because the new rules are complex.

For the complete article including more on the 50/30 rule, click the link below.