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As the US Population Ages, Hospital and Doctors Visits Shoot Up

Baby boomers are getting older, necessitating more and more visits to hospitals and doctors, new data suggests .

A baby boomer is someone born in a period of increased birth rates, such as those during the economic prosperity following World War II. In the United States, demographers have put the generation's birth years at 1946 to 1964. Those born in that period have come to symbolize a booming, prosperous America, admired and envied by other countries.

But as Bushs USA is getting battered Iraq and elsewhere, the baby boomers too seem to be panting for breath.

Hospital and doctor visits in the United States have surged by 20 percent in the past five years and the most commonly prescribed medications are antidepressants, according to statistics published on Friday.

The survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also found most people who visited emergency rooms had private health insurance, although the uninsured were twice as likely to use emergency services as people with insurance.

The report estimates that 1.2 billion visits were made to hospitals, emergency rooms (ERs) and physicians' offices in 2005.

"It was only a few years ago that we released that the total number of visits had reached 1 billion. And now we are up to 1.2 billion," Catharine Burt of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics said in a telephone interview.

"That's a 20 percent increase in the just the last five years -- a huge number," said Burt. "I can tell you that the number of hospitals and physicians has not increased 20 percent."

The reason is clear -- Americans are getting older. "When you reach 50 things start going wrong, just little by little, and you keep going back to the doctors," Burt said.

The baby boom generation are now prime users of the medical system.

Burt's team surveyed 352 hospitals and about 1,200 phys
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