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

In: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging

  • David M. Cutler
  • Ellen Meara

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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This chapter was published in:
  • David A. Wise, 1998. "Frontiers in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise98-1, 07.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 7301.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:7301
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Cutler, D.M., 1992. "The Incidence of Adverse Medical Outcome Under Prospective Payment," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1603, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    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, vol. 6(3), pages 3-21, Summer.
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