Your Planners at Work
By Arnold Kling
Over the next twenty years, fully 60 percent of total entitlement spending increases will stem from population aging. It is not until 2045 that per-capita health care spending growth becomes the majority factor. (See figure 3, which extracts data from figure 2 through the year 2045.) Yet, by 2045, entitlement spending—if left unaddressed—would already have risen to unsustainable levels. Thus, the larger role of excess cost growth post-2045 is in some ways academic: if the nation has not found a way to address rising entitlement spending before then, the issue will have resolved itself by precipitating a fiscal disaster.
His essay is about the current fashion on the left, which is to say:
1. Social Security and Medicare are not in trouble.
2. The long-term problem is health care costs, which can best be addressed by government action.
To Biggs and others, this is looking like a diversionary tactic, designed to fend off attempts to rein in promises to future retirees.
From my perspective, the health care cost issue is a bit of a red herring. If you had government out of the health care financing business, you would not worry about what health care costs are doing. If my fellow citizens choose to spend more of their money on their health care, that’s not my concern. It’s the prospect of my fellow citizens spending more of my money on their health care that has me worried.