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The Health Care-Based Vulnerability of Elderly Populations Essay

Vulnerability, or the susceptibility to a form of harm, results from an interaction between the resources available to the elderly and communities and the life challenges they face. Vulnerability results from developmental problems, personal incapacities, disadvantaged social status, inadequate formal health care coverage, inadequacy of interpersonal networks and supports, degraded neighborhoods and environments, and the complex interactions of these factors over the life course (Mechanic, 2012). When researched several types of vulnerable populations were found. They are not limited to; families ineligible for welfare, race/ethnic minorities, prison inmates and current or former offenders, unattached adults who are ineligible for public cash aid, men and women with psychiatric and substance abuse disorders or developmental disability residents of rural areas, residents of inner-city communities, individuals with chronic illnesses, the disabled poor, the elderly, the near-elderly, foster children, and children with special health care needs (Pollack & Kronebusch, 2009). This paper will review and analyze the lack of care and insurance for the elderly population in Lansing, Michigan.

Demographics

The demographics of Lansing are important concerning the most vulnerable parts of the populations. The population of Lansing, according to the 2010 Census is around 114,297 people. 9.7% of the population is elderly people 65 years and over (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Therefore, a rough estimate would calculate that there are 11,087 elderly people in Lansing proper. 61.2% of the community is white and 23.7% is African American (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). The elderly population consists of 51.6% females whereas a lesser (49.4%) is composed of males (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). The education levels of the people within the elderly demographic and completely varied. High school was the highest form of education that was most widely achieved. A small portion of these people did attend and graduate from college and another small portion never made it through high school. Gauging an income level for senior citizens is hard because according to this generation, most of the people who are 65 and older have retired are living off social security, a life savings or a pension. The small sum that the elderly are allowed each month is generally insufficient compared to the cost of living.

Population Vulnerability

This population is vulnerable because of current health insurance issues, increases in chronic illnesses as one ages, and the expense at which most elderly have to pay out-of-pocket because they are no longer working. The truth is by the age of 65, most people are retired or looking to retire. With retirement generally comes with a significant pay cut and loss of health insurance coverage. In addition to the loss of health insurance come the health issues of aging. It is no secret that as people age things tend to go wrong with our bodies. Another reason to make sure that an elderly person is always covered by some sort of health insurance.

If someone were to retire or lose their job before they were 65, they would not qualify for health care program like Medicare, thus paying out of pocket for any medical needs during this period of time. Medicare provides national social insurance program that is administered by the U.S. federal government. It guarantees access to health insurance for Americans ages 65 and older and younger people with disabilities as well as people with end stage renal disease (Archer & Marmor, 2012). Also the premiums for HMO’s, which generally will cover anything that Medicare will not, are also increasing while to amount of coverage offered is decreasing.

Challenges

77 million Baby Boomers began to come of age in 2010 and the impact on individuals, families, taxpayers, and the entire health care system will be staggering. As a person ages, theirs body cannot perform the way it used to. This will cause many elderly people to loose their job or choose to go into retirement. Both of these options cause a loss in health care as well and a reduced or exterminated income. Here alone lies a reason that the elderly population is challenged. The elderly population also has a tendency to develop a chronic illness that can be life threatening if not treated or controlled properly.

This means that need for health care treatments also increases. At least 40% of those over age 65 will have nutrition-related health problems requiring treatment or management (Gigante, 2012). It is important to realize that 10% of people over the age of 65 and will develop Alzheimer’s disease and 50% of those over the age of 85 will develop this disease (Gigante, 2012). More elderly African American men and women use government aid than white men and women. Therefore, this population will be vulnerable because of the lack of funding, proper health care and insurance.

Health Care System Impact

As this baby-boomer generation continues to age there will be profound effects on the way that money is spent on health care and insurance. With approximately 77 million people turning 65 over the next several years, the amount of government spending on Medicare will greatly increase (Gigante, 2012). Thus, the demand for medical care associated with the aging population will so strain our resources that future generations will face permanently higher inflation, higher taxes (Gigante, 2012). Some people suggest the rising cost of Medicare will drive the national debt to a point of no return. The post-war Boomer generation spends more on health care than their parents did. They feel the need to visit the doctor more, consume more services, and they are not afraid to improve their quality of life (Gigante, 2012). From physical therapy, to cosmetic surgery, to the latest technologies in life-saving equipment, Boomers just are not going to grow old gracefully.

Stakeholders

The stake holders want all of the control when the consumers are in control and hold all of the power. Obamacare and the Health Care Reform Act are forcing the health care insurance industry to change its business model to remain profitable (Feld, 2012). Therefore, the healthcare system must be consumer driven. Consumers must be put in control of their healthcare and the cost that they incur. Other stakeholders, like those in the health care organizations and pharmaceuticals will be forced to cater to the consumer. When this happens all the stakeholders’ interests will become aligned. It will result in a decrease in healthcare costs and an increase in stakeholders’ satisfaction (Feld, 2012). Patients will accept responsibility for the management of their health. Physicians will become more efficient in their delivery of care (Feld, 2012). These changes effectively will improve the overall quality of health care. It is clear that the stake holders in different sectors of the health care industry can be affected both positively and negatively by elderly people and the Baby-Boomer generation.

Preparation for an Aging Population

Research is a great avenue to anticipate what kind of health care needs we will have in the future. Because this population has already started using Medicare funding to support their medical needs, we will have to look to other avenues of saving money on health care needs. One option currently being explored and expedited is the use of generic drugs instead of the more expensive name brand drugs. This will significantly cut spending on behalf of the government and the patients. All four major players in the health care system will have to come together to reduce the amount of government spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The pharmaceutical companies, the health care organizations, the health insurance companies, and the government must ban together and figure out a way to make health care more affordable.

Conclusion

The health care crisis causing the elderly people to become vulnerable also has effects on our economy. More than the depletion of Medicare funds, we are also looking increased debt that will affect patient’s families as well as the national debt. Seniors citizens are using up their savings to pay for their medical expenses which eventually will leave loved ones with medical bills or hospital credit cards. When patients age they either retire can no longer work due to their health. They will be faced with a loss in health care as well and a reduced or exterminated income. The 77 million people who will be turning 65 over the next several years will increase the amount government spending on Medicare. Focusing on way to bring the rising prices of health insurance and prescription drugs down will permit a decrease in out-of-pocket as well as government spending.

References

Archer, D., & Marmor, T. (2012, February). Medical and commercial health
insurance: The fundamental difference. Retrieved from http://www.healthaffairs.orb/blog/ Feld, S. (2012, June). Repairing the healthcare system. Retrieved from http://stanleyfeldmdmace.typepad.com Gigante, S. (2012, February). How Boomers will impact the health care industry. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com Mechanic, D. (2012, June). Vulnerable people, groups and populations: societal view. Retrieved from http://contnet.healthaffairs.org/content Pollack, H., & Kronebusch, K. (2009, Spring). Health insurance and vulnerable populations. Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured, 5. Retrieved from http://www.umich.edu/~eriu/pdf/wp5.pdf U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, January). Lansing, Michigan. Retrieved from http://quikfacts.census.gov/qfd/states


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