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The Medical Costs of the Young and Old: A Forty-Year Perspective

In: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging

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  • David M. Cutler
  • Ellen Meara

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the growth in medical care spending by age over the past 40 years. We show that between 1953 and 1987, medical spending increased disproportionately for infants, those under 1 year, and the elderly, those 65 and older. Annual spending growth for infants was 9.8 percent and growth for the elderly was 8.0 percent compared to 4.7 percent for people aged 1-64. Within the infant and the elderly population, excess spending growth was largely driven by more rapid growth of spending at the top of the medical spending distribution. Aggregate changes in outcomes for infants and the elderly are consistent with these changes in spending growth, but we do not present any causal evidence on this point.
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Suggested Citation

  • David M. Cutler & Ellen Meara, 1998. "The Medical Costs of the Young and Old: A Forty-Year Perspective," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 215-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7301
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cutler, David M, 1995. "The Incidence of Adverse Medical Outcomes under Prospective Payment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 29-50, January.
    2. David M. Cutler & Mark McClellan & Joseph P. Newhouse & Dahlia Remler, 1996. "Are Medical Prices Declining?," NBER Working Papers 5750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1992. "Medical Care Costs: How Much Welfare Loss?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 3-21.
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