By Elise Viebeck - 05/06/13 08:00 PM EDT
"The question is what to do about those people who lose Medicare as the cost rises or they are excluded. Those people may not be able to find alternative health coverage."
Ways of cutting Medicare's ever-increasing budget have dominated Capitol Hill in the form of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposals and other frameworks designed to reduce the deficit.
According to RAND, the policy most likely to cut Medicare enrollment is raising the program's eligibility age by two years. That move would shorten rolls by about 14 percent while trimming spending by 7.2 percent, the study found.
Converting Medicare to a premium-support model would be slightly less detrimental to coverage — between 4 and 13 percent of seniors would leave the program — and the policy would cut Medicare spending by up to 24 percent, RAND said.
The study was published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.