Navigation Links
Medicare Makes Way for Baby Boomers

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- It's been a long, strange trip from Woodstock to the nursing home, but baby boomers are getting there -- and soon.

The first boomers turn 65 this year and can start enrolling in Medicare this month, setting a ball in motion that will probably put further strain on an already overburdened system.

For starters, these seniors are arriving at Medicare's door with more health problems and more expectations than their parents and other generations before them.

A century ago, people died mostly from infectious diseases. Today, they're dying of chronic, lingering conditions such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, said Dr. Stephen G. Jones, director of the Center for Healthy Aging at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Conn.

Today's elders are also used to demanding and getting attention. The aging golfer with a trick knee today goes looking for a knee replacement rather than suffering in silence off the links.

"We're talking 75 million people classified as baby boomers [who will] consume health-care services much more than their parents," said Dr. Bruce Koeppen, founding dean of Quinnipiac University School of Medicine in Hamden, Conn. "It's the 'Me Generation.' By their very nature, they will consume more health services."

"This will potentially put a huge strain on the system across the board -- economically, socially, politically, almost every sphere you can imagine," Jones added.

And who is going to take care of this momentous generation? Hard to say, given a shrinking pool of qualified geriatricians and primary care physicians.

"There are not enough people trained to take care of an entire aging population," said Alan B. Stevens, chairman of gerontology at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple.

According to Koeppen, 40 percent of physicians are themselves approaching retirement and Medicare-eligible status.

"The real crisis is [whether we are] going to have adequate health-care services," he said. Quinnipiac is one of a legion of new medical schools cropping up to try to stem the impending crisis.

Add to this the fact that the Affordable Care Act, the health-care reform legislation enacted in 2010, will allow previously uninsured people who were not receiving primary care to start using primary care services, Stevens said.

Part of the problem, observers say, stems from low payment rates for geriatricians and primary care physicians.

"In terms of reimbursement, geriatrics is one of the lowest-paying fields," Jones said. "Think about the amount of time a doctor spends with an 88-year-old patient. You have 88 years of history to go through, 16 medications to refill. It takes a long time to see a geriatric patient so the burden on the doctors is pretty severe, and reimbursement is nil, so virtually no one is going into geriatrics these days."

According to the American Geriatrics Society, there are now 7,029 board-certified geriatricians in the United States -- or one for every 2,699 Americans aged 75 and older. But with the swelling in the elderly population, the ratio is expected to drop to one geriatrician per 5,549 seniors by 2030.

The same holds true for primary care physicians, another field experiencing a shortage, Stevens said.

"Many providers, especially those in small private practices, don't take Medicare patients because it's not in their financial best interest to do that," he said.

But baby boomers as a whole have shown they think it's in their best interest to beef up the medical system, especially as it relates to older adults.

"The baby boomers have tremendous political clout, social clout and want things addressed as they move into this group," Jones said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has more about getting started with Medicare.

SOURCES: Bruce Koeppen, M.D., Ph.D., founding dean, Quinnipiac University School of Medicine, Hamden, Conn.; Alan B. Stevens, Ph.D., professor, internal medicine, and Vernon D. Holleman-Lewis M. Rampy Centennial Chair in Gerontology, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, Texas; Stephen G. Jones, M.D., director, Center for Healthy Aging, Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich, Conn.

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Health Risks Rise for Medicare Patients in Year After Stroke
2. ACP commends Congress for preserving patient access by stopping scheduled Medicare SGR cuts
3. UTHealth study suggests private insurers control health care spending better than Medicare
4. Medicare Cuts May Have Spurred Drop in Prostate Cancer Treatment
5. Internists issue heartfelt plea for Congress to help patients by stopping Medicare SGR cuts
6. Medicare Panel Endorses Vaccine for Prostate Cancer Patients
7. Medicare Part D Changes Not Overwhelming, Experts Say
8. Study shows drop in unnecessary care after Medicare reimbursement cut
9. Use of Prostate Cancer Treatment Fell When Medicare Paid Docs Less
10. Study identifies flaws in Medicare prescription drug program
11. Investment in CRC screening targeting pre-medicare population could cut medicare treatment costs
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Medicare Makes Way for Baby Boomers
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Brillouin Energy Corp. Congress and Government officials ... renewable energy technologies capable of producing commercially useful amounts of thermal energy (heat) ... and HHT™ Boiler System reactor core modules were presented to Congress on Capitol ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... American Family Care (AFC), the nation’s leading provider of urgent care and ... Metro Atlanta’s North Point Mall. The clinic is designed to test the concept of ... to operate through Dec. 24. , Holiday Pop-Up Clinic , Official Opening November 27, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... been designated an Aetna Institute of Quality® Bariatric Surgery Facility for treating individuals ... and cost of health care services available to its members to help them ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... Bibliomotion is thrilled to announce the launch ... and Diversity by Nancy M. Schlichting, Chief Executive Officer of Henry Ford ... address the needs of patients and their families, shaped my desire to improve the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... Robert Yeager CEO of PharmMD, has announced the release of ... been multiple breakthroughs and challenges as healthcare reform moves out of its infancy and ... partners to stay ahead of the curve by breaking down barriers for every patient, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 Teledyne DALSA , a ... sensing technology, will introduce its CMOS X-Ray detector for ... November 29 to December 3, at McCormick Place in ... for diagnostic and interventional imaging will be on display in ... of advanced CMOS X-Ray detectors is the industry benchmark ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Pa. , Nov. 24, 2015  NuShield, Inc., an industry leader in LCD screen protection ... and stationary computer technology as part of their patient monitoring or electronic documentation system. ... ... ... A ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  BioPlast Manufacturing, a manufacturer of plastic ... diagnostic and biotech environments, announced today that it ... petri dishes. This acquisition is aligned with BioPlast ... products that are designed and tested by scientists ... Bristol, Pennsylvania ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: