Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cost of seniors benefits rises sharply even before baby boomers retire


USA Today on Feb. 14 has a story by David Cauchon, "Senior benefit costs up 24%: 'Health care crisis leads to 8-year rise," with the Internet title "Price of seniors' care to soar as boomers age," link here. That 24% number is supposed to represent the increase in medical costs, social security benefits, and (when allowed by law) nursing home benefits over the natural inflation rate since 2000.

This is with a relatively steady senior population. The problem will become more severe as baby boomers reach 65 in three years and start using Medicare.

Actually, long term care costs may be decreasing as more seniors get in-home care from home health agencies and as more family members become involved as caregivers.

Economists criticize the attitude of "granny bashing," because in general seniors (or at least their spouses) paid into social security and Medicare during their own working lives and in some sense earned their benefits, which was less the case when FDR and then LBJ started these programs. The main problem is the extreme and uncontrollable rise in health care costs, some issues managing prescription drugs, and longer life spans.

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