“By 2030, one in five Americans will be over age 65, and the healthcare system is just beginning to feel the burden. (Matthews, 2013)” Medical technologies, from the discovery of antibiotics to the portable defibrillators in nearly every workplace in the United States, have succeeded in prolonging life. In fact, humans are living about thirty years longer. (Matthews, 2013) This creates a gigantic problem for the US government: Who is paying for the health care of these aging individuals?
Cause of Death for Seniors Over Sixty-Five
An article in live science last year indicates that a senior over 65 years of age is most likely to die from falls resulting in head trauma. (Live science, 2013) “Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths. Every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI. Those who survive a TBI can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities which may last the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).” Falls resulting in traumatic brain injury for seniors, if the trauma is severe, may result in months – if not the remainder of the individual’s life and leave the individual in need of around the clock nursing care.
The ensuing results, if the individual survives a traumatic brain injury, may render the individual’s personality (change in mental status, mannerisms, or habits) being adversely affected to severe deficits in the senses. The capability of walking and/or talking, the use of one or both arms, and the ability to control bodily functions are all possibilities that may occur if an individual suffers traumatic brain injury. The cost of therapy and nursing care can swiftly deplete a senior’s savings. Once stabilized, following the occurrence, an individual, if the individual is able to ambulate sufficiently returns, he or she may live for additional decades. If the ability to ambulate is grossly affected, despite adequate care, the individual stands to experiences frequent battles with lung infections, which may eventually lead to death.
Regardless, beyond 65 years of age with one or more chronic diseases, the need for assistances will grow with each year. According to Matthews, seniors tend to “romanticize” the past – a time when families took care of their elders, often at home. If a senior is in anticipation of this happening, chances are the realization dwindles with each passing year. (Matthews, 2013) Most of the baby boomers with chronic illness will require nursing home care and will rely upon Medicare and Medicaid to withstand paying for it.
Who Pays for Baby Boomer’s Health Care?
Couples turning sixty-five now should assume their portion of long term health care will be a minimum of $220,000 or more out of pocket. Most baby boomers have $50,000 or less when sixty-five rolls around and will expect to rely solely on Medicare and Medicaid. (Gleckman, 2013) This mindset is unrealistic. The number of people already dependent on these systems that are under sixty-five has nearly bankrupts the systems and the anticipation of the addition of large numbers of baby boomers certainly more than justifies the need for Health Care Reform.
Many baby boomers failed to prepare for the high health costs associated with aging. Medical technology has prolonged life. However, for all the technology, nothing was done to ensure the baby boomers (or those younger than the “boomers”) retained adequate savings to meet the high cost of health care. Realistically, a twenty-five year old couple – each earning minimum wage – has a gross salary of $580 per week, $2,513 per month. The couple would have to save 25% of their gross salary to come “close” to the amount needed to cover out of pocket expenses after sixty-five years of age. (Gleckman, 2013) In today’s society, is that reality? What happens then? Baby Boomer’s reality check has yet to reach full impact. It is going to take tremendous government change and far more restraint on the US citizen to pay for senior care in the future.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (June, 2014). Injury & Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/get-the-facts.html Gleckman, H. (5/22/2013). Why Baby Boomers Need to Get Real About Health and Long-Term-Care Costs in Retirement. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2013/05/22/why Live science (January 15, 2013) what’s the leading cause of death for the elderly Retrieved from http://wwwlivescience.com/32413-what’s-the-leading-cause-of-death Matthews, S. (10/03/2013). How the Aging Population is changing the Health Care System. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-living/aging-and-health WHO, International (May, 2014). The top 10 causes of death. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/ent