SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE: INSURANCE

Apr 10th, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Moments Blog

More Attempts to Manipulate

Here’s something to ponder:  Why has the word ‘entitlement’ become a negative slur? It seems to be used whenever politicians want to cast a government program in a negative light and influence negative perceptions.  It appears to be an attempt to manipulate public opinion, once again.  Sigh.

For senior citizens, Social Security and Medicare have been cast in the ‘entitlement’ negativism by some politicians, and it makes no sense.  Well, except to try to manipulate our opinions, and therefore our votes.  The discussion on this comment thread is a good description of the issue.

Entitlement is really very narrowly defined.  The Merriam-Webster free online dictionary defines entitlement as , “…a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract.”  It’s not positive, and it’s not negative.  The narrow definition does not say whether entitlements are earned or not.  It is what it is.

The question behind the discussion seems to be, “Are entitlements earned, or are they just give-aways?”  Perhaps this is really what we need to be talking about when we look at Social Security and Medicare.

Entitlements and Insurance

To be sure, both Social Security and Medicare fall within the narrow definition of entitlement programs.  And they are also social insurance programs.  Social Security is designed to ensure senior citizens have income to support them in their senior years.  Medicare is designed to ensure seniors over 65 have necessary health care. Social Security recipients receive monthly benefits based on the amount they contributed to their Social Security account during their working years (workers pay into accounts with the assurance they will receive benefits in the future).  Medicare recipients receive medical care based on the choices they make when they enroll in the program; they pay a monthly premium, again based on their choices.

Hey, Senior Friends.  Social Security and Medicare are more accurately described as insurance than entitlement. The Merriam-Webster definition of insurance is “…a means of guaranteeing protection or safety.”  Again, a very narrow and precise definition.  It fits both Social Security and Medicare much more accurately than the definition of entitlement.

Let’s change the rhetoric.  Let’s start talking about Social Security and Medicare as insurance programs. It just makes a lot more sense.



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