Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Unintended Consequence of Obamacare

Give Obamacare the benefit of the doubt. Assume that its emphasis on early diagnosis and treatment facilitates less costly procedures than waiting until a problem becomes more advanced and more costly to treat.

Assume further that pharmaceutical and biotech firms discover and commercialize life-saving drugs that reduce the incidence of death from cancer, heart, and other diseases.

Assume further that individuals reduce their intake of salt, trans-fats, and calories and exercise more, thus enhancing longevity.

If these assumptions materialize, the consequence will be an increase in the “healthy” elderly population, especially in the 90-and-over age group. Many of these elderly will become increasingly frail and need more and more personal assistance to carry on with daily living. The cost associated with maintaining this demographic group, either in their own homes or in assisted living, will be an additional strain on Social Security and Medicare. Perhaps the Trustees of the two funds can include some cost estimates of taking care of an ever-larger number of frail elderly in their long-term projections.

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