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How will the baby boomers change long-term health care?

Abstract

After the World War 2 ended, soldiers and support staff from the US, Canada, and Australia returned home from national duties abroad. Most of them sought to start their families, as most of them had left their countries before they had done so. Because of so many young people starting families, there were an overwhelming number of children born during the period starting from the year 1946 to 1964. At that time, approximately 78 million children were born. This makes a substantial portion of the American population, specifically in the northern parts of America. They represent around twenty percent of the total American population.

Now, the oldest of the baby boomers are aged 68. Most of them have seen through different periods in the American history, having been there during the Vietnam War, they have seen the whose tenure of America under John F. Kennedy, and two of them, namely William Clinton, and George Bush having been presidents of the United States. This means that the baby boomers have been a significant feature in the recent history of the United States, and have affected the shape of things in the United States, including healthcare, delivery of services and marketing (Barr, 2014).

Now, most of them are approaching the retirement age, and getting into their old age. Despite them having been heavily relied on by the country, they will start relying on the nation and other people, specifically on healthcare. Like other people, at their old age medical complications come up, and they will require consistent medical attention. This means that their impact, in the long-term healthcare will be felt, buy the people in the society, and the country at large. Estimates show that by the year 2020, more than 12 million of the baby boomers will be requiring long-term healthcare.

How will the baby boomers change long-term health care?

They are living longer

The first impact of baby boomers is the fact that they tend to live longer than their parents, their life expectancy is longer than those of the people that lived before the baby boomers. For instance, they have a life expectancy of two years more than that of their parents. With a higher life expectancy, it is expected that the baby boomers will most likely strain the health industry, specifically health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, more than their parents would have done.

With the baby boomers living several years past their age of retirement, most of them run out of their savings, money that they could have used to take care of their health needs. As such, an increased number of baby boomers are expected to require support on daily basis, compared to their predecessors. Naturally, as people age, they become disabled, such that they can no longer do the things they did for themselves, including basic personal care. In addition, sudden illnesses become more frequent as people age. This means that this person will require more medical attention (Uhlenberg, 2013).

Most boomers failed to prepare for their old age, when they were much younger. As the cost of healthcare increases, the baby boomers will not be able to provide their own healthcare. This means that they will require assistance from other people. In addition to increasing costs of healthcare, since most of them do not have health insurance, it is becoming hard for them since insurance cover for the elderly is very high. This makes it very hard for most of them to purchase insurance, for those who retired without planning adequately. For these reasons, since most boomers failed to plan adequately, that ages after retirement require adequate medical attention, and with the increasing costs of healthcare in the world, most boomers will not afford basic healthcare for themselves. This means they will be forced to depend on other people, and the government for support, thus straining the same.

Failure to purchase insurance

Most baby boomers know about long-term insurance, most of them can afford to get insurance covers, but few have bought the same. Actually, this is not a boomers problem, but a problem to people of all ages. Boomers make up the majority of people aged between 25 and 75, where only 13 percent of them are insured on long-term basis. Although a few are covered under other insurance policies such as comprehensive healthcare, this does not cater for long-term health care (CONNECTION through Long-Term Care, 2013).

As they age, the demand for long-term insurance increases. This forces the insurers to hike insurance premiums, making it unbearable to these people. They then leave it for the very necessary times, such as when they are diagnosed with terminal illnesses. At such times, insurance premiums are usually very expensive, or some companies do not cover these people. Some insurers have also stopped selling insurance covers to boomers, since most of them have ignored the call to purchase cover, only opting to buy the same when they realize that their health is deteriorating. In the past, this has caused a number of insurers huge losses, as they have been forced to pay compensation at losses (Fliegelman, 2012).

The Yearn for Independence

Earlier on, the boomers aimed at having a revolutionized society. Despite them having retired, most of them are still engaged in other work places. Despite their separation from jobs through retirement, the boomers do not leave the work environment completely. Instead, they engage themselves in other work places where they are said to reinvent their abilities. These are usually as volunteer work, hobbies or having a new job altogether.

The baby boomers aim at remaining independent in their homes. Through this, they increase the demand for in home long term health care services. This independence status brings their need to have a qualified person to take care of them at home. This is because their family members may lack the required skills to give them long term care. Technology has also been embraced to help in taking long term care of the boomers. For example, cameras that assist in monitoring the aging parents have been adopted and put in place to help monitor the activities of the boomers. Additionally, special shelters have been relied on to help the boomers relax, for instance in their backyards.

Surveys have revealed that most boomers are never prepared for their long term health care. This is because they in most cases gamble and rely on their families to continue taking care of them. They do not have any savings to take care of them in their aging times. This is probably one of the explanations as to why the boomers engage in employment way after they have reached their age of retirement. However, most boomers even in such jobs after retirement do not manage to provide themselves with the healthcare they need. Financiers in form of family have to come in and intervene.

Diverse Long-Term Health Care Options

There are boomers who as much as they get insurance cover, leave room to rely on their family members to help take care of them. The boomers may either move to receive care from their family members or get professional caregivers to be with them. The sole purpose remains to ensure they are well cared for and avoid any possible negative experiences that their caregivers may be forced to go through. Apart from health care, boomers have other chances they can make use of to ensure they live a better life in their old age. For example, there are reverse mortgages through which the retirees may use some amount to cater for their medical expenses as well. This in turn ensures they have long term health care as they have a stable financier.

Boomers also have an option of transferring their existing assets values worth to form part of their long term health care services. This means that the boomers need not have necessarily insured themselves for them to have their health care funded. By engaging in other available options they can as well ensure safety of their healthcare. Additionally, working after retirement is also an option through which the boomers increase the amount that can be used to take care of them. This is more significant to those who did not prepare themselves fully before attaining the retirement age (Roberts, 2012).

Increasing government options

The government currently has Medicaid and Medicare as two major programs that are aimed at supporting healthcare to the people. However, the government has requirements that are to be met for people to be assisted, so that only the people that are in real need are covered. The boomers, since most of them reach the age where they require medical attention without having prepared adequately, have resulted to seeking assistance to the government through these programs. This has increased the pressure on the government, to support people who could have been taking good care of themselves (Ragsdale, & McDougall, 2008).

Since these two programs were meant to cater for the needs of the people who are not able to afford this. With the boomers increasing pressure on the resources that are allocate to these programs, other people that would have benefited from these programs are forced out. Since the boomers that receive assistance do so in long-term, since they are aged and aged people require long-term health attention, this will increase pressure on the government to increase resources on the medical programs that it sponsors.

Conclusion

As noted, the most boomers failed to adequately prepare for their long-term healthcare. Due to their huge number, and high life expectancy, the boomers will increase pressure on the government programs for healthcare, and the healthcare resources that are available. Most boomers, albeit being aware of the need for insurance failed to purchase the same. Since they are living longer lives than their predecessors did, they require more medical attention than their parents did. Having not planned adequately, these boomers could cause numerous healthcare challenges as noted in the research paper.

References

  • Barr, P. (2014). The Boomer Challenge. Trustee67(2), 13-16.
  • CONNECTION through Long-Term Care. (2013). Long-Term Living: For the Continuing Care Professional62(5), 14-15.
  • Fliegelman, M. (2012). How Long Term Care and Life Insurance Fit Together. Insurance Advocate123(13), 31.
  • Ragsdale, V., & McDougall, G. J. (2008). The Changing Face of Long-Term Care: Looking at the Past Decade. Issues In Mental Health Nursing29(9), 992-1001. doi:10.1080/01612840802274818
  • Roberts, K. (2012). The end of the long baby-boomer generation. Journal Of Youth Studies15(4), 479-497. doi:10.1080/13676261.2012.663900
  • Uhlenberg, P. (2013). Demography Is Not Destiny: The Challenges and Opportunities of Global Population Aging. Generations,37(1), 12-18.

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