Ezra Klein: Health Care Will Eat Us: Kash Mansori summarizes the pictures of Medicare and Social Security painted by the just-released Trustees' Report:
The SS program will only be able to cover about three-fourths of its expenses by the year 2041; the Medicare program will reach almost the same point in 2019. Fixing the SS shortfall would require a 16 percent increase in payroll taxes; fixing the Medicare shortfall would require a 122 percent increase in payroll taxes.
We could fix Social Security with our eyes closed. Hell, if the trends remain relatively favorable, we won't need to do anything at all.... But you never hear about conservative plans to reform Medicare. And the reason is that they don't quite knows what to do. Meanwhile, Medicare is just another way of saying "health care," as the exact problems that bedevil our public insurance afflict our private insurance, we just don't issue yearly reports on their effects. This is why liberals tend to focus on systemwide reform; unless you get costs down across the board, were in serious trouble.... Cost growth in the private sector is, depending on which data you believe, precisely what it is in the public sector or a little bit higher. Unless we get the whole system under control, we're all going to be hurting.
I think a better way to say it is "we're all going to be healthy" or "we're all going to be well-medicated." The coming health-care financing crisis is, at its deepest level, not a problem but an opportunity: an opportunity to live longer, healthier lives by finding a way to finance all the innovations in health care and medical inventions we will want to have. We may well fumble this opportunity, but we are more likely to fumble it if we regard health cost containment as an end in itself, rather than improved efficiency as the goal as we let people as consumers and voters decide how much they want to spend.