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Are high health care costs a good thing?

We should be celebrating high health care spending. Wait a minute, what? That’s what Michael Hodin, executive director of the Global Coalition on Aging, recently wrote in the Huffington Post.

Hodin says that while many Americans believe our health care system is failing and the costs are too high, the opposite is actually the case – the high costs are a testament to our health care’s success. Health care in America has provided us with groundbreaking medicine and treatments that are keeping us alive longer than previous generations. And because Americans are now living longer than ever before, health care has become a widely sought-after commodity. Being in such high demand, health care costs have of course gone up.

Although Hodin believes our health care system is successful, that doesn’t mean he’s against reform; our current health care budget is simply unsustainable for our government. But rather than simply “slashing spending,” we need to reassess how the money is spent. This way, we can put money into research and programs that will save on health care costs in the future.

For example, Hodin advocates investing in research for Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions. Such research can lead to drug development and preventative treatments that will end up saving costs on long term care. This makes a lot of sense.

What’s slightly more questionable is Hodin’s implication that the Medicare eligibility age should increase. When many people are living into their 90s, Hodin thinks 65 is awfully young for the federal government to start paying for health care. If we were to raise the eligibility age, we could save money on health care costs. Yet, when many people are suffering from chronic medical conditions in their fifties and sixties, and when many seniors are already waiting to get health insurance they desperately need because insurance is more expensive for them, is raising the Medicare eligibility age really a good idea?

What do you think? Do you think the high cost of health care points to its success? Do you think Hodin’s suggestions for reform make sense?

Read the full piece here: Why we should celebrate high health care spending.

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