Nightly News | November 28, 2012
>>> off. a big aspect of this again is medicare , 50 million americans get their health insurance through medicare . that number is growing quickly as the baby boom number gets older. polls show americans don't want big change to it, but big change could come. nbc's tom costello has more on what it may look like.
>> reporter: it is one of the most popular government programs, but medicare now accounts for more than 13% of federal spending, and expected to grow at what many analysts call an unsustainable rate. so to cut costs, slowly raise the eligibility age, and it would affect mr. and mrs. green, both turning 65 next year will unlikely be affected, both still eligible for medicare coverage. but it could affect mr. and before his brown next door, who are only sixty. that could raise the number to sixty-five, and mr. and mrs. jackson, fifty-five, may not be eligible until they're sixty-six or older. but others say it would shift the costs to health care providers and private insurers.
>> so as the private number pays more, the government saves money.
>> reporter: it could mean that seniors who earn more must pay more. mrs. graham, for example, with income of less than 80,000 a year will pay a premium of 15 a month. her neighbors earning more than $80,000 a year, already pay up to $250 more a month in premiums. while only 5% pay higher in premiums, congress could raise the premiums or the co-pays on all seniors. but many are on a tight budget, the median income $50,000 a year. that is why many oppose the changes.
>> we want to see the numbers lowered, not simply see the seniors pay more for health care .
>> reporter: since nearly every senior will depend on medicare , any decision on eligibility of premiums and co-pays could affect millions. tom costello, nbc news, washington.