Tags: Baby | Boomers | Overwhelm | Health | Care | System

Baby Boomers Overwhelm Health Care System

Friday, 30 December 2005 12:00 AM

As baby boomers move into their retirement years, America's senior population will double in 20 years – threatening to overwhelm the nation's health care system, experts warn.

The shortage of medical resources "will be disastrous," said Russell Bodoff, executive director of the Center for Aging Services Technology with the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA).

"It's really scary."

Half of all baby boomers are now at least 50 years old, according to the Boomer Project, a marketing consultant and research firm.

As a result, "there won't even be close to enough" nursing homes and other medical facilities to address the need, Boomer Project President Matt Thornhill told the Washington Times.

According to Thornhill, the health care industry – including hospitals, long-term facilities and assisted-living institutions – won't be able to meet the need as boomers grow older and begin facing physical and mental decline.

"There will be so many of them who are not dying," he said. "Boomers will focus on maintaining their vitality as long as they can, even though a third of them have less than $1,000 in their retirement accounts."

The health of seniors in the U.S. has been improving since the early 1980s, according to a recent study by the Rand Corporation.

But diseases such as obesity and diabetes are increasingly prevalent among the young, the study notes, suggesting that "future Medicare beneficiaries might be less healthy than current ones."

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 40 percent of Americans ages 45 to 64 have high blood pressures and 36 percent are obese. Both are serious risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Delivering medical care to aging boomers and utilizing new medical technologies that will come into widespread use over the next 25 years "could greatly increase Medicare costs, posing financial risk to the government's health insurance program for the elderly, which already faces serious problems," the Times reports.

Medicare expenditures were more than $309 billion least year, and are expected to reach nearly $690 billion by 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Overall, health expenditures will likely reach $3.6 trillion in 2014. "The present health care system was designed 40 years ago," said Larry Minnix, chief executive officer of the AAHSA.

"There's not enough money in America to keep doing things badly. But there is enough money to redesign the system and start doing things well."

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As baby boomers move into their retirement years, America's senior population will double in 20 years - threatening to overwhelm the nation's health care system, experts warn. The shortage of medical resources "will be disastrous," said Russell Bodoff, executive director...
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Friday, 30 December 2005 12:00 AM
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