Health care is a fast evolving field with advancements of technology and treatment options growing every day. The delivery of care has grown and often shifts direction over the years to accommodate changing population demographics and needs of patients. Many factors play a part in the role of health care and medical treatment, one of those factors being population demographic changes. When the demographics of a population change it can cause adverse effects on the surrounding area in many ways, such as access to care, types of treatment needed to care for the population and the need for health care employees.
In a particular population where the demographic is aging the dynamic and need for care begins to affect the health care system in a variety of ways. All health care entities involved play a role in ensuring the challenges and the needs of the population change are met. As the population demographic ages the impact on the delivery of care will be significantly altered, such as the organization of care and how it is delivered, treatment options, long-term care, and health care coverage will all be affected in different ways.
According to the Administration on Aging of the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 13% of the people living in the United States are elderly as of 2011, which average to about 40 million people. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by the year 2030 this number will expand to 72 million making up for 20% of the population in the United States (Campbell, 2013).
Another factor that affects the aging population demographic is the rapid rate of retiring Baby-Boomers, with almost 10,000 entering retirement every day over the next 16 years this number will continue to grow (Campbell, 2013). The increasing amount of people aging in the United States as well as all over the world means the focus of health care will shift from acute care to the treatment of serious chronic diseases and assisted living skilled and non-skilled medical care will be in high demand.
The aging population also results in the growth and demand for an increase in health care services impacting the health care market in a way that increases cost for all health care entities, such as the individual patient, the federal government, individual states, hospitals, physicians, etc. Other impacts of the health care system will be the increase need for health care employees with specific skill sets along with the need for additional health care settings to attend to the elderly population. When population demographics change such as aging, many health care related challenges begin to rise and must be addressed and overcome quickly to ensure the quality of care is not impacted. Some of these challenges in an aging population are the need for in-home medical care and assisted living, such as hospice care, skilled nursing facilities and other long-term medical care settings.
The challenge these bring to the health care system as well as the aging population are the high financial cost of in-home support and increased difficulties recruiting the proper trained employees (Potter, 2010). Another challenge this specific population change is faced with is the increased cost of health care coverage. Most retirees and elderly population turn to the federal government health plan known as Medicare for his or her individual health care coverage, with the majority of the Baby-Boomer population turning 65 years old at a rapid pace, more and more Americans are qualifying for Medicare coverage. In recent years the cost of Medicare has raised, mainly impart to the increased cost of prescription medications and the consumption of the elderly population (Potter, 2010). With decreasing long-term care options and increasing health care cost the elderly population is faced with many challenges within the health care system.
Ultimately the current state of the health care system in the United States must address the concern of the aging population and adapt to the needs of the elderly. In the current era of advanced technology, more and more elderly people are connected to the internet and have a wide variety of receiving health care information. As the health care market moves into a more diverse and technology driven state it is important to market these wellness programs as well as changes in health care coverage that will ultimately effect the aging population. Another way to address the challenges of the aging population is ensuring that individual patients receive the most up to date information regarding his or her health care coverage and diagnosis information. Individual patients, communities and society as a whole can bring together the focus on the aging population health care needs by promoting wellness programs and providing the support to health care facilities needed to face the aging population’s challenges.
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