Taking Two Aspirin Won't Do

Radical surgery is recommended to cut health-care costs

In 1967, its first full year of existence, Medicare, the nation's health-insurance program for the elderly and disabled, cost $4.6 billion. Medicaid, the medical-assistance program for the poor enacted simultaneously, cost $2.9 billion. This year the combined programs are expected to cost about $75 billion, or 9.5% of all federal spending. And in five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, that price tag is expected to climb 87%, to $142 billion, a rate twice that of all other federal spending. The chief causes of this...

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