The population within the United States is growing every year. Not in the sense of the overall population but instead focused solely on the older demographic, specifically those 65 years and older. In 2009 the population represented 12. 9% of the U. S. population which is one in every eight people. This number already seems very high; however it is expected to approximately 19% of the population by 2030.
This is a very substantial growth in a respectively short period of time. AOA) This means that many businesses are going to have to refocus the services in order to accommodate this newly expanded demographic. This holds true for Alegent Health Hospital in Omaha according to Kim Kleine who is the Operations Director of Hospice and Home Care. Hospice is an end-of-life care system for individuals who have been given a limited time to live due to illness or another life limiting condition. Hospice is not a curing system but instead a caring system.
They try to make the last few months of ones life as comfortable as possible and can do this in the hospital, nursing homes, or the patient’s home. Hospice does not apply strictly to the senior population, however it is the most common patient and the demand for this certain demographic is also suppose to growth substantially as the baby boomers enter their senior years. Taking on more patients then accustomed to can cause many problems if they are not prepared for such a change and this is something Kleine is worried about.
She wants to be prepared for the increase in demand before it is upon them, this way they can provide the best service possible. Since this is not yet a current problem it is hard to tell what the total impact will be and in what areas they need to adjust their current system. Also, since Hospice is not only for the senior patients they also need to maintain their service for the other patients as well and make sure that they don’t slack in any areas that they provide service.
This change in population distribution is going to be drastic compared to the 12% we have now, however in comparison to what the distribution used to be it is extremely drastic. Kleine commented on the fact that it used to be very rare to have many patients in hospitals that were in their upper 80’s and 90’s, however now it is almost turning into the norm. Another area of concern is how their patients will eventually be able to afford Hospice care. Hospice care is traditionally funded primarily by the patients insurance.
However, in the many cases where the patient does not have insurance Medicare and Medicaid cover hospice care in most states. This system works very well for the hospice care providers and for the patients, this may not be the case in the very near future. With the Medicare fund running low and the aging population growing the likeliness of the funds being around to take care of this large population is very unlikely. This leaves both parties left with a very hard problem to deal with and a very hard decision to make.
Does the care provider not provide the service if the patient does not have insurance or do they find an alternative solution to pay for these patients? And, if they choose to find another way to pay for their patients, what will that solution be? Both of these problems are serious and ones they are currently adjusting to but also have many areas that still need a lot of work. Kleine did say that part of the solutions is in the government’s hand and what solution they will come up with for the Medicare/Medicaid problem. That does not mean that they are sitting around waiting to see what the effect will be.
They need to start a plan now and be prepared to the growing demographic. In order to help with this problem I plan to look into the problem more thoroughly throughout the entire country. See how other hospice care centers are adjusting to this same problem and what their plans are in the future. Not only limiting my research to hospice centers. Many aging institutions will be struggling from these same two problems. Looking into solutions of other institutions may lead to a better solution to deal with the issues Alegent Hospice is having.
This is also where Kleine recommend I started looking because if gives me a better idea of what the entire problem entails and how some institutions are being affected differently which can help predict what future problems Alegent may have that they are not currently thinking about. Though my recommendations and solutions may be completely correct once completed, having many viewpoints on how to adjust to this problem will help Kleine and other administrators come up with their overall plan to be put into action almost immediately.
Two problems exist here: the growing senior population for the next 20-30 years and the shrinking Medicare/Medicaid funds. Though hospice is not the only organization that is faced with these problems they are defiantly going to feel effects from both and therefore a solution and a plan needs to be implemented otherwise the quality of their service and the success of their business will diminish over the years.
Courtney from Study Moose
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