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Present Value Of Medicare Liability Hits $40 Trillion

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NU Online News Service, March 19, 2004, 2:15 p.m. EST – The federal government has accumulated about $50 trillion in unfunded liability for Social Security and Medicare.[@@]

The National Center for Policy Analysis, Washington, says the unfunded liability for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit alone is about $10 trillion over an “infinite time horizon,” or about as much as the unfunded liability for Social Security.

The unfunded liability for Medicare benefits other than the new prescription drug benefits is about $30 trillion, and the total unfunded Medicare liability is about $40 trillion, the NCPA says.

The NCPA is basing those figures on staff predictions about the contents of the 2004 Report of the Social Security and Medicare Trustees. The U.S. Treasury plans to release the report Tuesday.

In the past, the trustees’ longest time horizon has been 75 years. This year, the trustees have come up with a method for computing the present value of all future Social Security and Medicare obligations.

The unfunded liability for paying for the new Medicare drug benefit over the next 10 years is about $500 billion, the NCPA says.