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A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic World War II baby boom and who grew up during the period of 1946-1964. This population of Americans will soon be over the age of 65. When the last of the baby boomers reach retirement age, almost 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 and older compared to less than 13% today. By 2030, there will be more than 70 million Americans over age 65 (Taylor, 2005). There is a major concern of how this increased population will affect the healthcare system.
Medical care for retiring and aging citizens may strain resources and future generations maybe faced with higher inflation and higher taxes to cover the cost of social security, Medicare, and other retirement benefits (Taylor, 2005). Many people are already feeling the effects with increased cost of premiums, deductibles, and prescription medication.
At some point this population is going to require healthcare. According to, Giganle (2010), over 60% of adults between the ages of 50 to 64 who are working or has a spouse that is working have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
By 2020, Boomers will account for 4 in 10 office visits to physicians. Over the next 20 years, Boomers will make up a greater proportion of hospitalizations as they live longer but with multiple complex conditions (Giganle, 2010). Prescription drugs will become a major part of medical treatment and is expected to be a major expense. According to the Congressional Budget Office, spending for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid accounted for 3% each of gross domestic budget in 2009.
By 2035, spending for Medicare alone will have more than doubled to 8% and by 2080 it would have grown to approximately 15% (Peterson, 1999). These generations have different needs and expectations than past generations.
In the past many of the older generations were not as concerned about their health and many illnesses and diseases often went undetected. They did not visit the doctor as much. On the other hand, this generation is more concerned about maintaining their health and living longer; therefore they visit the doctor frequently. They are making more doctor visits and using more prescription medications. Many of these prescribed medications are new and very expensive. There is also cost associated with the number of lab test that are required in order to monitor these medications. People are also living way longer than before, however many of them are living with chronic conditions. The growing number of people with these conditions will also put an increase demand on the healthcare system. Medicare cost for those 65 and older may cause the national debt to dramatically increase. This financial increase may eventually cause a reduction of healthcare for all.
Many healthcare practices are now preparing for the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers will have new technologies and medical services available to help them to live longer. Chronic conditions will create a demand for continuous medical management in both inpatient and outpatient settings (Peterson, 1999). Some health care providers are preparing themselves as well by looking at the amount of space they have available for increased amount of patients, training their staff for diversity, and having new technology available for patients to enhance their care. Procedures like minimally invasive surgery, new imaging techniques and remote care technologies will improve the quality of life for many (Taylor, 2005). These new and advanced technologies would allow them new opportunities. All we can do now is brace ourselves as we prepare for the Gray Tsunami; the age wave that will definitely change America.
Giganle, S. (2010, February 22). How baby boomers will impact healthcare industry. Retrieved from www.cnbc.com
Peterson, P. (1999, April 16). Gray tsunami; how the coming age wave will transform america. Retrieved from
Taylor, R. (2005). Baby boomers put hurt on healthcare system. Senior Journal, Retrieved from SeniorJournal.com
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