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As an actuary, I can tell you that the unfunded liabilities ARE meaningful and are HUGE. If you doubt me, read the trustee reports for the OASDI and Medicare (HI and SMI). The previous answer ignores several items: 1) The costs of these programs, as is, will increase tremendously from year-to-year.

2) Benefits are being paid by eating up reserves for future years for Social Security and by using general revenues (general tax money) for Medicare.

3) We are borrowing tons of money from our citizens and increasingly from foreigners building INCREDIBLE debt that we are foisting on to future generations because politicians feel obliged to satisfy our greed rather than telling us the truth.

4) The 2009 trustee reports for Medicare projects a $36.6 trillion unfunded liability for the next 75 year period and $86.5 tillion if it goes further out. Yet it states that the projection UNDERSTATES the problem because it is based on doctors' payments in the current law, which the trustees feel are unreasonable.

5) The corresponding OASDI unfunded liabilities are $5.3 trillion for the next 75 years and $15.1 trillion in total. So together that exceeds $100 trillion and it does not count Medicare nor any of the debt that would result if the Health Care Reform package goes through.

5) By the way, the so-called "deficit reductions" of the Health Care Reform bill result from collecting money today for future benefits, allocating that money to "reduce" the debt and letting our children and grand-children worry about how to cover the cost of those benefits. If private industry used such accounting, they'd be sent to jail.

100 trillion unfunded liability is a fallacy! The internet is rampant with such crazy stories,. One said 38 Trillion over 75 years.

Even that does not stand up to simple logic.

Medicare is always predicted to be "bankrupt"in 3 to 13 years in the future. This prediction started in 1970 where it was predicted to be spending the first unfunded dollar in '72. The predication keep moving out, but is never reached. The fund is always covered, tells it straight:

A new health care ad from a conservative group claims that "Medicare will be bankrupt in eight years." That gives a false impression. The program does have huge financial problems, but there's no reason to think it's going out of business as the word "bankrupt" implies. And the issue isn't new:

  • A government report the ad refers to says the trust fund for one part of Medicare -- hospital insurance -- won't have enough money to pay all benefits in 2017. Medicare's physician and drug benefits will "remain adequately financed," says the report.
  • Government projections have found that the hospital insurance trust fund would face a shortfall "almost from its inception," according to the Congressional Research Service. But in many cases politicians have found ways to extend it. In 1970, for instance, the trust fund was expected to be insolvent in 1972.

So do the math: To run a 36 Trillion liabilty it would need to be negative by the amount of $500 billion every year for 72 years. Some Right wingnut started these numbers and they spread thru the internet and by TV and Talk Radio right wing spin masters!


Yep, the GAO is made up of a bunch of right wing spin masters, according to the first answer. 34 trillion unfunded - medicare/medicaid, 7 trillion - SS.

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Q: Your unfunded liability for Social Security Medicare and Medicaid is close to 100 trillion so is there any way to pay for these programs without bankrupting America?
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