Baby boomers a challenge to tomorrow’s health care providers

America’s over-65 population will nearly triple between 1980 and 2030 as a result of the aging Baby Boomers (babies born after 1945 war’s end), adding new demands and challenges on an already stressed-out health system, according to a new report released today by First Consulting Group.

The first Boomers will turn 65 in 2011. According to the report's authors, more than 37 million of them (60 per cent) will be managing more than one chronic condition by 2030. For instance:

  • Some 14 million Boomers will be living with diabetes – that's one out of every four Boomers.

  • Almost half of the Boomers will live with arthritis and that number peaks to just over 26 million in 2020.

  • More than one out of three Boomers – over 21 million – will be considered obese.

    As patients live with multiple chronic diseases, demand for services will increase:

  • The number of physician visits has been increasing for all adults, up 34 per cent over the last decade, and this trend is expected to continue.

  • By 2020, Boomers will account for 40 per cent of all office visits to physicians.

  • Over the next 20 years, Boomers will make up a greater proportion of hospitalisations as they live longer but with multiple complex conditions.

    At the same time, the number of registered nurses, primary care and specialty physicians will not keep pace with demand. As the Boomer generation is more racially and ethnically diverse, there will also be a greater need for caregivers who reflect the diversity of this population.

    However, with changing expectations and new technology, care delivery will also change. Procedures like minimally invasive surgery, new imaging techniques that "see" through the skin, and remote care technologies will improve the quality of many Boomers' lives allowing them new opportunities.

    Source: Baby Boomers to Challenge and Change Tomorrow's Health Care System, American Hospital Association, May 8, 2007.

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    For more on Health Issues:

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 15 May 2007
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