Government Shutdown And Medicare - Who Is Affected?

By: Edward Neeman
Published: Friday, December 28 2018
Last Updated: 8 months ago

The government shutdown has many people confused, and rightfully so. It’s still unclear to most Americans as to the impact this shutdown will have in their daily lives. While government shutdowns have occurred in the past, they are often short-lived and have very little impact because of this.

However, the current shutdown of the federal government will be different than most of the ones that have occurred in recent history. Much of this is because there are a few complexities that will affect how this shutdown operates, and for how long.

When a federal government shutdown occurs, all non-essential federal workers are furloughed. That means, they do not go to work nor do they get paid. It also means that the departments they run stop operating for services to the general public. Some of the most tangible ways people often find out what areas are affected during a government shutdown are when they try to access a federal agency, or visit a federally owned site. This is easily noticed with the closing of National Parks.

The good news is many of the critical services Americans count on from the government are not affected. The agencies that are NOT affected by the shutdown include:

  • Federal Law Enforcement
  • Department of Defense
  • The U.S. Post Office
  • Air Traffic Control and TSA

What Agencies Are Partially Affected?

Then there are agencies that are partially affected by the government shutdown. That means that parts of their departments still function, while other parts of them are shut down. The agencies Partially affected by the U.S. Government shutdown include:

This shortened list shows there are some significant areas of government that are affected by the shutdown. These include the handling of specific parts of these departments.

How is Medicare Affected by The Government Shutdown?

The funding for these agency enrollees is part of what is considered mandatory spending services that are paid for as part of the U.S. Government Mandatory Spending Budget. These agency benefits are part of a separate budget that does not fall under the annual US Government budgets.

This is good news for all people who are enrolled in these services. No one should have to worry about whether they will get their Social Security checks or whether or not they are covered for insurance needs. While there are services within these department's umbrellas that will be shut down, the budget financing for them does not stop for regular ongoing needs. This means that Social Security checks and insurance benefits will continue to provide financial payouts and coverage for those already in the system.

However, there are areas within these agencies and programs that will not be available to the public. This occurs during the entire time period the federal government is shut down. The services that are most affected by this include:

  • Call centers
  • New enrollments
  • Case management
  • Customer service

All these areas do not function for the public to use. Any new claims or ongoing services for existing claims, such as case management, are shut down and all action delayed until the services reopen. For many Americans who are enrolled in these government health insurance programs or who receive Social Security, they are often most concerned about how long the shutdown will block them from getting supportive services.

While there is no defined answer, the probability is it will last at least until early February. This in part is because there is a new Congress that will be sworn into office in mid-January since no deal is likely to be struck until this is complete and changes to the budget are made and voted on.

Why Is Medicare Safe?

Medicare is presently used by over 58 million Americans in this country. Of this, 49 million enrollees are over the age of 65 and the rest are younger disabled people. Medicare is the number one insurance provider in America. It even beats out Medicaid, which has 35 million people including children enrolled in the country. While this is a significant amount of people, this number is set to increase at a significant rate over the next 15 years.

On average, since 2006, an additional 30,000 people are turning 65 in America each month. That is an additional 360,000 people each year. With that many people enrolled in the program, it is easy to see how widely used and trusted the program is and has been for Americans in retirement. The

Medicare program has been around since 1966, and has been a primary source of health insurance for millions of Americans in retirement [since its inception( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_(United_States)). Overall, the program has worked very well for retirees. In the last few decades, Americans on this insurance have had greater liberties and choices in their program benefits and they can choose to change their benefits during their annual open enrollment and changes time periods.