This paper forecasts the consequences of scientific progress in cancer for total Medicare spending between 2005 and 2030. Because technological advance is uncertain, widely varying scenarios are modeled. A baseline scenario assumes that year 2000 technology stays frozen. A second scenario incorporates recent cancer treatment advances and their attendant discomfort. Optimistic scenarios analyzed include the discovery of an inexpensive cure, a vaccine that prevents cancer, and vastly improved screening techniques. Applying the Future Elderly Model, the authors find that no scenario holds major promise for guaranteeing the future financial health of Medicare.
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