Why medical cost growth may be underestimated

Medicare is the leading cause of the federal government’s poor budget prognosis. More seniors, higher utilization, new products and services, longer lives and a decline in the number of working age people paying into the system all add up to big trouble. But two article I saw in today’s Wall Street Journal made me realize the prognosis is even serious:

  • Numbers That May Make You Sick explores the amount of money –typically in the hundreds of thousands– that people approaching retirement need to have set aside to pay for health care costs such as co-pays, deductibles and uncovered services such as remote patient monitoring for diabetes. To compound the challenge, these costs are likely to rise faster than general inflation, which means that CPI assumptions need to be broken out for this component. It’s something few people do.
  • The same article discusses long term care insurance, which is apparently a hard sell for most people. The exception is those people who’ve experienced the trauma of long term care costs with their parents.
  • A Nip and a Tuck discusses the phenomenon of older people getting cosmetic surgery, whether because they feel they need it to stay in the workforce or for social reasons. These procedures aren’t covered, which most people realize, but neither are operative-related complications. Although the article points out some of the dangers of cosmetic surgery for older people, the examples it gives are of people who had a lot of success and would recommend such procedures to others. (Reads a bit too much like an infomercial considering its in the WSJ)

It’s Halloween, and if you’re not as scared about long term health care costs as you are of your local ghosts and goblins, their might be something wrong with you.

October 31, 2011

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