You get what you pay for…except in Medicare

by Ryan Streeter on May 29, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Here’s a useful series of slides depicting why Medicare is unsustainable (and why, by extension, we need reform along the lines of Paul Ryan’s plan).

By now, it seems, everyone who pays at least an iota of attention to the news realizes that we’ve got problems with Medicare. However, there still exists a pervasive notion, held by conservatives and liberals alike, that Medicare beneficiaries are entitled to their benefits because they “paid into” the program. Or, more specifically, too many people still believe that they basically take out of the program what they put into it.

This is a pernicious belief, because it stands squarely in the way of reform. It’s no wonder people still hold this view, because politicians still talk about the program this way – even Republicans in the presidential race have used the “paid into” language when assuring seniors they don’t have to worry about benefit cuts.

This chart puts to rest the “I’m taking out what I paid into it” schtick: