Last night, 60 Minutes ran a segment on the cost of dying (thanks to Loyd at Project Mayhem for pointing this out). The segment identifies various economic and social costs associated with the last months of a typical person's life in the United States, and argues that a substantial portion of the cost is frivolous, with "no meaningful impact".
Be that as it may, 60 Minutes has grossly underestimated the cost of dying. The greatest costs are not those associated with the months before death. Far greater are the costs associated with the months, years, decades and centuries AFTER death. Humanity's greatest problems may not be what you think they are. Here is Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom on the cost of death and the cost of less-than-wonderful life.