Americans are living longer and there are those in our government who want to raise the eligibility age as part of any deal to reduce huge deficits.

But what sounds like a prudent sacrifice for an aging society that must watch its budget could have some surprising consequences, including higher premiums for people on Medicare…

the idea as a quick fix that would cause long-term problems.

Increasing the eligibility age to 67 would reduce Medicare spending by about 5 percent annually, compounding into hundreds of billions of dollars over time.

But things aren’t that simple.

This is a policy change that may appear to be straightforward, but has surprising ripple effects.

It’s a simple thing to describe, and the justification is that people are living longer, but there are indirect effects.

Among the effects identified:

Higher monthly premiums for seniors on Medicare. Their costs would increase because keeping younger, healthier 65 and 66 year olds out of Medicare’s insurance pool would raise costs for the rest. The increase would be about 3 percent when the higher eligibility age is fully phased in.

– Higher premiums for private coverage under Obama’s health overhaul. That’s because older adults would stick with private insurance for two extra years before moving into Medicare. Compared with younger adults, they are more expensive to insure.

– An increase in employer costs because older workers would try to stay on company insurance plans.

– Higher out-of-pocket health-care costs for two out of three older adults whose entry into Medicare would be delayed.

The Congressional Budget Office has also projected an increase in the number of insured.

That possibility becomes more real with populous states like Texas saying they won’t accept the Medicaid expansion in Obama’s health overhaul, which would provide coverage to low-income adults.

Then there’s the impact on people with physically demanding jobs, for whom extending their working years may be difficult.

Raising the eligibility age is not the only Medicare cut in play. Hospitals and other service providers could see reductions in payments, drug companies may owe new rebates to the government, and upper-income seniors would face higher monthly premiums.

The total package could reach around $400 billion over 10 years.