As the baby boomer generation begins to reach retirement age, there has been much speculation as to what affect they will have on the health care industry. The baby boomer generation is the group of people born between 1946 and 1964. At one point, there were more than 76 million of them, of which 4 million died before 2000. With all this in mind, I will discuss what specific effects they will have now they are getting to that “elderly” stage. One word used by many people when they describe how the baby boomers will affect health care is apocalyptic.
We all know that elderly people have to see the doctor quite frequently as their bodies start to deteriorate and begin to not work as well as it did when they were younger. It is believed that with this many people needing that much attention from the health care providers that the younger generations could face permanent inflation or high taxes and very possibly it could be both. Others believe that it will put such a strain on the insurance providers that the amount of coverage for everyone is going to be dropped as well.
Another group of people think that with the cost of Medicare (government run insurance for those 65 and older) skyrocketing, the national debt will reach a point of no return. Why will all of this happen, you wonder? As mentioned before, elderly people have to see the doctor a lot more frequently than younger people. When the average generation holds about 60-65 million people, adding nearly 20 million more to that all at once is quite a large amount. Let’s put it this way. A computer can only hold so much memory.
When it begins to store so much information on it, then it begins to slow down and not run as efficiently and needs more ram put in it. If too much is put on to it at once, then it could fry the system and become broken. The health care industry is the same way. The amount of organizations and providers can only hold so much. When there are less people using it, the more efficiently it works. The more and more that are crammed on it, the slower things work and the less effective and expensive it can become. In the baby boomers case, there are a lot of people that are going to be cramming the system.
The costs are going to skyrocket as a result. There are a couple particular challenges that we will arise with the baby boomers. The first will be the cost of prescription medication. According to Dr. Woody Eisenberg, M. D. , vice president and chief medical officer for Medicare for Medco Health Care solutions in Franklin Lakes, NJ, baby boomers were the first generation to use medications as a preventative measure. Therefore they are used to taking medication and their bodies are accustomed to doing so. They have also had the privilege of all of the medical advances that have come about in the last 50 years that other generations haven’t.
According to the Edlin, M. (2013) website, by 2015, the baby boomers will add nearly 19% to the population that falls into the 50-60 year old age groups. That is a staggering number. Another challenge that faces the health care industry is the long term health care program. The English, M. (2013) website says that by the year 2020, 12 million people will need long term care. With the baby boomers coming along, that number will surely increase. Providers will need to hire more long term care nurses as well as more doctors.
The more people they have to hire, the higher the cost of the service because they have to make up the extra expense one way or another. Another issue facing this generation would have to be the incidents of chronic disease. While the average life expectancy was 48 years old in the early 1900’s, the now life expectancy is up to 78, nearly double. With that in mind, there are also more people with chronic disease. Many of these diseases, though, are preventable, but due to some poor lifestyle choices made during their life span, it is inevitable that that number will increase. The effects of smoking and drinking are a major part of that.
Part of this is the decrease in the number of primary care physicians and pension plans that are disappearing due to the economy. That means there is a smaller number of doctors and smaller amounts of funds to take care of these. If there will be an evolution in this, there must be new models of management of these illnesses as well. This includes the delivery of innovative services through Medicare and private sector plans. “Transformative changes are particularly critical for the baby boomer generation, of which nearly two-thirds (35 million people) have at least one chronic health condition,” (Blumenthal, S. 2013).
Another thing about this particular generation is that they are technology savvy. While things like the internet were not around when they were little, the older they got, the more technology as a whole grew. The internet came along as well as television. They have become starving for information. Therefore, when it comes to marketing, the best place to do this is on the internet and also on television advertisements. They do also enjoy reading the newspaper, so taking out portions of those would be beneficial.
Making sure that there is as much information as possible about a particular service or product available is vital. If there is something that they see or want, they will do their research on it first, before taking it. There seems to be a lot of negative surrounding this generation and the health care industry. However, there are things that can be done to help with all of this, on the part of the individual, community, and society as a whole. As far as the individual patients goes, it starts with taking good care of themselves. While they are getting older, it is never too late to begin proper health habits.
If they smoke, they should stop. Their lungs will begin to heal themselves. Doing daily exercises can go a long way to promoting good health. They should have a proper diet and try not to rely on supplements unless directed so by their doctor. As far as the community goes, there should be more tolerance for elderly people. It is frustrating to a lot of people that they don’t move as fast and even ridicule them. Being more accepting of them when they walk or drive by. Encourage them to go out and do things. In terms of society as a whole, the same could be said there as well.
However, another thing that could be done is that there can be more programs made for people age 50 and up to encourage them to get out and get involved. If people don’t become “home bodies” and stay active, then they are more likely to stay healthy. I work at Walgreens, which is known more for its health related stuff and it has changed its motto to “Helping people get, stay, and live well. ” I have seen an increasing number of older people coming in living well in to their 80’s and 90’s and still living healthy lives. The people that I have spoken with have attributed their good health to staying active.
They admit they don’t move as fast as they used to, but they still manage a way to do it. They stay mentally strong which is a big plus when it comes to keeping their health condition high. The baby boomer generation is a large generation of people, likely one of the biggest in the nation’s history. They are getting older, now, and will start to require more medical attention. It is going to put a major strain on the health care field, which is why it is best if we start preparing for it now. Living a healthier lifestyle is a key to all of this.