Consequences of Health Trends and Medical Innovation for the Future Elderly

Published in: Health Affairs - Web Exclusive, Sep. 26, 2005, p. W5-R5-W5-R17

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2004

by Dana P. Goldman, Baoping Shang, Jay Bhattacharya, Alan M Garber, Michael D. Hurd, Geoffrey F. Joyce, Darius N. Lakdawalla, Constantijn (Stan) Panis, Paul G. Shekelle

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Recent innovations in biomedicine seem poised to revolutionize medical practice. At the same time, disease and disability are increasing among younger populations. This paper considers how these confluent trends will affect the elderly's health status and health care spending over the next thirty years. Because healthier people live longer, cumulative Medicare spending varies little with a beneficiary's disease and disability status upon entering Medicare. On the other hand, ten of the most promising medical technologies are forecast to increase spending greatly. It is unlikely that a silver bullet will emerge to both improve health and dramatically reduce medical spending.

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