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Medicare Makes Way for Baby Boomers
Date:1/3/2011

ng 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
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