William Saletan notes a New York Times article that discussed a nearly 100-year-old woman who got a pacemaker and a defibrillator, "apparently courtesy of Medicare". That article also noted that not surprisingly, more and more 90- and 100-year-olds are getting relatively expensive surgeries. Mr. Saletan states, "The objection to spending Medicare funds on all these procedures is obvious: The money would be better spent on younger patients." And he concludes with this pathbreaking analysis:
Isn't health, like wealth, an unequally distributed asset? Isn't it, in fact, the ultimate asset? And if that's the case, should we means-test people on Medicare not just for wealth, but for age? . . .
If you make it to 100 and can fund your own surgery, that's terrific. But Medicare should focus its resources on people who haven't been as lucky as you.
Comment #1: why stop with Medicare? Why not apply this idea to Social Security, too? Sorry, Granny, you're too old for Social Security now! Heck, why not for almost any government benefit? Ladies and gentlemen, the Saletan Plan for eliminating America's long-term fiscal problem!
Comment #2: do you think, for one moment, if Saletan's proposal were accepted--"age-testing" Medicare benefits--that it would stop with government-provided medical care? Wouldn't some people--you know who--suggest that privately financed medical care also be age-tested? After all, a surgeon spending his or her valuable time operating on a 100-year-old can't spend that time operating on a 25-year-old. The logic would sooner or later demand extending the non-price rationing to everyone.