Here’s a fun economic indicator from Karl Smith—the ratio of Medicare spending to Social Security spending.
My view is that this is something we ought to think more about. One interesting and important question is what share of overall national economic resources do we want to expend on bolstering living standards for the elderly. A separate interesting and important question is how much of that support should take the form of in-kind purchase of health care services and how much should take the form of money. I don’t have a great answer to the first question, but I think there’s good reason to think “less health care, more money” would be a good idea.