Time to Act on Health Care Costs

Source: Peter Orszag, Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2008

Popular discussions of the long-term fiscal challenges confronting the United States usually misdiagnose the problem. They typically focus on the government expenses related to the aging of the baby boomers, with lower fertility rates and longer life expectancy causing most of the long-term budget problem. In fact, most of the long-term problem will be driven by excess health care cost growth; that is, the rate at which health care costs grow compared to income per capita. In other words, it is the rising cost per beneficiary rather than the number of beneficiaries that explains the bulk of the nation’s long-term fiscal problem.

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