5 ways baby boomers are changing healthcare
Starting in 2011, 3 million baby boomers each year reach retirement age.
The generation of 75 million people born from 1946-1964 that helped shape modern healthcare will soon become an unprecedented burden on the system. As boomers leave the workforce en masse, they reasonably expect the healthcare system to provide them with long-term care. Unfortunately, many of the doctors and nurses up to the task are retiring as well. This trend presents unique challenges but also a great opportunity for growth within U.S. healthcare.
Here is how baby boomers are changing the game:
1. Boomers aren’t afraid to adopt new technologies
Perhaps it’s their Gen X and Millennial children forcing them to keep up with times, but baby boomers are far more likely to adopt and utilize new healthcare technologies. but baby boomers are far more likely to adopt and utilize new healthcare technologies. Whether it’s using web apps to lower their healthcare payments or scheduling appointments online, this generation cannot be compared to the relatively technophobic generation that preceded them. This ability to adapt to changes in technology can lower healthcare costs by reducing the amount of time a patient needs to spend with their care provider if an issue can be settled online.
2. They are creating a healthcare boom and tons of new jobs
More retirees expecting increasing amounts of care means hospitals and nursing homes need to hire more doctors, nurses, administrators, you name it. By 2020 an estimated 5.6 million healthcare jobs will be created to care for the retired boomers. This boom will increase the size and growth rate of the healthcare sector making it a stable place to work and invest.
3. Baby boomers are expected to live longer but are not necessarily healthier
Boomers are expected to live a full two years longer than the previous generation. This may not seem like a big deal but consider two years of expensive end of life care multiplied by 75 million Americans. Government programs like Medicare that are already suffering from high costs could go bankrupt from the pressure. Unfortunately, this is coupled with the fact that baby boomers are not altogether healthier than their parents. A study by the CDC found that adults in the baby boomer age range had the highest prevalence of obesity. Well, at least they smoke less.
4. Baby boomers don’t necessarily know how to pay for their healthcare
As healthcare prices rise, so do out of pocket expenditures. Even with the expectation of Social Security and Medicare checks many baby boomers are unsure they can afford retirement. In a survey by the Insured Retirement Institute only 6 in 10 boomers reported having any retirement savings at all and only 36 percent are very confident that they will have enough money to retire.
5. Boomers will demand more choices regarding their care
Baby boomers constitute the most educated crop of retirees in American history. This means they will demand more out of the healthcare system in terms of choices and information. They are expected to be more involved and vocal in the decisionmaking process than their parents. This trend will force physicians to accommodate more options for their patients and be more forthcoming with information.