As life spans expand, so do Medicare, Social Security costs, study finds

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By 2050, Americans could be living three to eight years longer than current government projections. That could result in significantly higher costs to Social Security and Medicare, a new study released Monday reveals.

Advances in biomedical technology and improvements in mortality in the coming decades could contribute to a drastically longer life span by 2050, according to researchers with the MacArthur Research Network on an Aging Society. Research suggests the average lifespan in 2050 will be 89.2 to 93.3 years for women and 83.2 to 85.9 years for men. This will contribute to a $3.2 trillion rise in Medicare and Social Security outlays, bringing costs to $8.3 trillion, researchers say.

Current U.S. Census Bureau and Social Security Administration projections estimate women's average life span in 2050 to be 83.4 to 85.3 years. Men's longevity could average 80.0 to 80.9 years. But these agencies assume improvements in mortality in the coming decades will decline, rather than improve. The new research appears in the Milbank Quarterly. More information is available at