by Patrick Appel

Andrew Briggs does the math on the average medicare recipient who was born in 1944, started work at 21 in 1965, and retired in 2009 at 65:

This typical person paid around $64,971 in Medicare payroll taxes over his lifetime. Likewise, after netting out Medicare premiums, he’ll receive around $173,886 in lifetime Medicare benefits. The net? He can expect to receive around $108,915 more in benefits than he paid in taxes over his lifetime.

Briggs accounts for interest, but these numbers are a little deceiving. Senior citizens can get slightly more out of medicare than they put in while not bankrupting the country because many workers will not live long enough to collect payments. Also, some workers will keep working past the age of 65. On the other hand, many workers won't make payments every year because of layoffs or parenting duties, so I think Briggs is in the ballpark. With growing average lifespans and an aging population, a gap this big is worrying. E.D. Kain follows up.

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