In an April 14 interview, President Obama made the following statement:
“The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.”
He said this right after speaking about his grandmother's hip replacement and whether or not it was appropriate since she was terminally ill. He concluded “that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues...”. Read an article about that here.
One could infer from Obama's remarks and the context of his grandmother's end-of-life care, that heath care for the elderly is the major cause of rising heath care costs. The way Obama framed this is very misleading. The facts show a much different picture.
A Kaiser Family Foundation background brief on 2007 health care statistics found that most of the blame for rising health care costs falls on "chronic diseases" rather than health care for the elderly.
"...it is estimated that health care costs for chronic disease treatment account for over 75% of national health expenditures."
"experts agree that aging of the population contributes minimally to the high growth rate of health care spending."
Read the full background brief here.
Why is Obama unfairly focusing on health care costs of the elderly? It is no wonder that seniors worry that health care reform cuts will fall most heavily on them. They see reform and potential rationing as a rush to "kill grandma".