Entitlements: Not Just a Health Care Problem

6 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2008 Last revised: 9 Dec 2008

Date Written: August 8, 2008


A new consensus on entitlement reform has developed in Washington: rising per-capita health care spending is the only real crisis besetting the government's entitlement programs, while America's aging population and Social Security play minor roles at best. Some cite this view to shift the policy emphasis from entitlement cost control to the restructuring of the U.S. health sector, including private health care. But this new consensus is flawed. Using standard accounting practices and including all major government entitlement programs, population aging will play an equal role with health care cost growth over the next seventy-five years and a significantly larger role than health spending over the next few decades. While rising health care spending is indeed a pressing issue, discounting population aging leaves out half the problem and ignores half the potential.

Keywords: entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, fiscal gap

JEL Classification: H55, H51, H62

Suggested Citation

Biggs, Andrew G., Entitlements: Not Just a Health Care Problem (August 8, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1213182 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1213182

Andrew G. Biggs (Contact Author)

American Enterprise Institute ( email )

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