The Corner

Did Medicare Improve Life Expectancy?

Andrew Biggs pokes several holes in Nicholas Kristof’s latest column, which uses America’s relatively high infant mortality rates and high life expectancy for 65-year-olds to make the case for government provision of health care. I’ve explained why the infant-mortality numbers don’t prove what liberals think it proves a few times at NR and NRO, and Biggs goes through it too.

Biggs kindly forwarded me a graph that shows how life expectancy at age 65 has increased over the years. The introduction of Medicare doesn’t seem to have affected the trend. Amy Finkelstein and Robin McKnight have found that (to quote a summary) “the introduction of Medicare had no discernible impact on elderly mortality in its first ten years in operation.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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