Friday, March 15, 2013

The Incidental Economist on Raising the Eligibility Age for Medicare

This is from The Incidental Economist

Some of us have spent years trying to drive home the point that many Americans haven’t shared in rising life expectancy, making policy recommendations like a rise in the Medicare age a really bad idea;

Medical care is smaller contributor to longevity than life style. So if the goal is to increase longevity, and it seems true that for blue collar workers that the earlier they retire the younger they die (it is though that this id due to the fact that retirement allows for more time to drink, doesn’t this undermine the story a bit? Perhaps postponing Social Security and Medicare eligibility and making harder to get on disability will cause some to work longer and this will increase their longevity.
I think that we can agree that money does not increase longevity in everyone but that some people respond to having more money by engaging in behavior that reduces longevity.
Also although it is surely true that :

Americans haven’t shared in rising life expectancy

Like for example those who are hit by trucks at an earlier age but that is not what he is saying. I think that he is saying that those people of low social economic status are not sharing in the increase is life expectancy and that I doubt. Even if it is true is despite an increase social services and access to healthcare.

 When I was growing up I knew a man who on almost everyday when he did not need to work the next day would drink beer all night and into the next day. If he was off 2 days he would drunk 2 If was off 3 days he would drunk 3 days. days. He would falling over drunk and would sometimes loose the car and his family would have to go look for it. (I for one do not understand how he lived as long as he did). But he would always sober up for work. Now this man managed to give up alcohol altogether and live a long life but that is not true for all  heavy drinkers.  So what would a delay in SS and Medicare do to the life expectancy of such a man?

BTW in Calton a low SES part of Glasgow Scotland the male life expectancy is 54 years.  Clearly these people are drinking themselves to death and access to healthcare is universal in the UK. 

This is from Gene Steuerle's blog "The Government We Deserve"
As it turns out, however, more years of retirement benefits don’t benefit the poor proportionately more than the rich. Yes, the poor have lower life expectancies, but other elements of Social Security offset this factor. A greater share of the poor doesn’t make it to age 62, so a smaller share of them benefit from expansions in years of retirement support. More importantly, those who are poorer are more likely to receive disability payments that aren’t affected one way or the other by the retirement age; hence, again, a significantly smaller share of them benefit from more retirement years. Other regressive elements such as spousal and survivor benefits also come into play for reasons I won’t further explain here. Empirically, these various factors add up in such a way that increases in years of benefits help those who are richer and those who are poorer in ways roughly proportionate to their lifetime incomes.

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