Thomas Donlan of Barron’s peruses the latest data on the future of America’s costly entitlement programs.

You never know when Social Security and Medicare trustees will issue their annual report on the financial health of the system. Between March and August. And you never know how much of it to take seriously, either. The reports are designed to reassure people who are suspicious about their chances of receiving all of the benefits they think they were promised.

But you know you will find one thing, if you read deeply into even the most optimistic trustees’ report: We’re doomed.

If benefits for the baby boomers — the wealthiest generation in U.S. history — are not tamed, they will consume the retirement system, then the health-care system, then the rest of the federal government, and finally the wealth of every younger American.

And there’s one other thing that’s always true when the trustees issue their reports: Hardly any citizens read them. It is the annual exercise in futility. …

… We should see where this is going: In 15 to 20 years, hospital insurance and both types of Social Security are likely to need continuous transfusions from the income tax, other sources of general revenue, and, of course, from borrowing, if possible.

If this goes on, there won’t be any money left for anything else, not even the high and rising cost of Medicaid.