Many dire predictions surround the effects of the aging Baby Boomer generation on the health care system. A severe shortage of health care workers combined with costs that threaten to implode Medicare have worried analysts for more than two decades. How bad are things really? With the number of elderly in the United States already reaching 70 million strong, most experts agree that the growing and changing needs of the population mean that health care needs to change with them. There are several factors at work in the health care situation today.
1. People are Aging Differently
Not only are there more people over retirement age than ever before, they also have access to procedures, treatments, and medications that their parents never did. We spend an average of five times more on the health care of an elderly person than a working adult . The unhealthy American lifestyle greatly increases the money spent on heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. But health costs are also increased by relatively modern developments such as home care equipment, cosmetic surgery, and increased physical therapy. This has also given way to a number of more specialized health careers. Hospitals and clinics are in constant need of trained professionals who can provide the greater quality of life services that seniors are growing to expect.
2. Supply could be Worse than Demand
Even considering the fact that seniors are interested in a greater quality of life, many argue that the aging population is far less of a problem than the commercial nature of the health industry. In other words, patients are costing more money because of an industry rife with excess and fraud which is trying to make money off of them. The invention of new drugs and technology can often be a great thing, but it can also lead to unnecessary medicating and needless products, which the manufacturers charge higher and higher prices to provide.
3. The Growth of Seniors is a Global and Economic Issue
The current economic climate as well as the issues with health care costs is not unique to America – these issues have effected every major nation in the world. By 2050, the percentage of people over 65 will more than double, and their health costs could rise to an average of 5 percent of the world’s GDP. This also means that combined with a decrease in birth rates, senior citizens and the elderly will be of vast importance to the world’s economy. Their well-being is beneficial to everyone in the long run. Providing seniors with quality care and affordable health care options results in economic growth.
The discussion of changes to the health care system is a response to the fear that higher taxes and reduced Medicare benefits will soon be the only way to manage an unsustainable rise in costs. The aging population is definitely not the only factor in this problem. But solutions can begin with a greater dedication to recruiting and training nurses, medical staff, and caregivers, as well as working to rid the health care industry of excess and fraud. The most important thing to remember? No matter where you are in terms of age or income, the health care crisis affects us all – and we’re all in it together.
Darlene Jamieson Top Masters in Healthcare www.topmastersinhealthcare.com/