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Int J Health Serv. 2008;38(2):253-75.

Myths of the high medical cost of old age and dying.

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  • 1Hospice Care Network, Fresh Meadows, NY 11354, USA.


This report challenges commonly held beliefs about the financial and medical impact of older Americans during their last months of life. Written by physicians specializing in geriatrics, the report offers a wealth of data to refute seven misconceptions that currently influence U.S. health care policies: (1) that the growing number of older people has been the primary factor driving the rise in U.S. health care costs; (2) that as the population ages, health care costs for older Americans will necessarily overwhelm and bankrupt the nation; (3) that putting limits on health care for the very old at the end of life would save Medicare significant amounts of money; (4) that aggressive hospital care for the aged is futile and the money spent is wasted; (5) that it is common for older people to receive heroic, high-tech treatments at the end of life; (6) that Medicare covers everything that older adults need in terms of their health care; (7) that if older patients had living wills or other kinds of advance directives, it would resolve dilemmas of how aggressively to provide care.

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