Viewpoint: Longer lifespans aren't to blame for rising healthcare costs

Technology, not long lifespans, is to blame for rising healthcare spending, according to an analysis in the New York Times.

Health economist Austin Frakt argues that although officials, like the Congressional Budget Office, credit the aging population in the United States as a source of healthcare cost, this is not the case. In spite of the assumption that older people need more healthcare services, some research shows that healthcare spending increases due to "proximity to death" — not necessarily throughout old age.

"In other words, living longer doesn’t increase healthcare spending so much as it delays the large amount spent near death," Mr. Frakt writes.

If, as several studies state, aging only accounts for a few percentage points of healthcare spending growth, what is to blame for the rest? According to Mr. Frakt, between one-third and two-thirds of the healthcare spending growth per person in recent years is attributable to technology.

"Every year you age, healthcare technology changes," he writes. "Usually for the better, but always at higher cost.

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