Should the Age of Eligibility for Medicare be Increased?

Here is Arnold Kling, explaining a Timothy Taylor point better than Timothy explains it:

The reason that raising the age of eligibility for Medicare does not produce a large effect is the phenomenon of “morbidity compression.” Basically, no matter how long you live, if you die a natural death, most of your health problems will be concentrated in roughly the last three years of your life. Bad problems kick in at around 72 for people who die at 75, and at 92 for people who die at 95. These days, if you make it to age 65, there is a good chance you will not have really expensive medical problems until you are in your late 70s, so raising the age of government dependency for health care does not do much to reduce Medicare’s cost.


Comments (6)

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  1. Paul H. says:

    Very interesting point, and one that is not generally understood.

  2. Madeline says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for finding this information tidbit.

  3. Buster says:

    This makes sense. But this same argument could also be used by proponents who want to lower the age of Medicare eligibility by claiming it wouldn’t cost much.

  4. Virginia says:

    Isn’t Medicare age arbitrary anyway?

    If people are working longer in order to receive Social Security, they’re probably also getting coverage via their employers. Theoretically, as more employers push their workers to the exchanges, Medicare will begin to matter more for seniors still in the workforce. But, that brings up its own question: if seniors don’t spend much of Medicare’s money until the last few years of life, why would employers not be able to provide them with cheap coverage?

  5. Chris says:

    So what if it doesn’t lower costs “that much” last I looked, every little bit helps. This is the same argument put forth by congressmen addicted to pork spending. Instead of trying to solve our countries problems with one big thing, one big piece of thousand page legislation. Lets try a thousand little simple things.

    In anycase, by increasing the age you’re actually burning the wick from both ends. Not only will the individual recieve less in medicare benefits, they will also pay in more in medicare taxes. Maybe we need to increase the age more than just a few years too. Lets try increasing it 1 year a decade.

  6. Marco says:

    Great point: shows that conditional life expectancy for the current 65-66 year old cohort is another 16-17 years roughly.

    But still, this is a pretty static analysis. If we impact provider incomes significantly, we’d have to expect some physician-induced demand…