How Baby Boomers Will Influence the Future of Healthcare

The latest estimates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts that healthcare spending in the U.S. will increase by 5.8% over the next 10 years. That's one of the largest increases on record, and the researchers behind the study say that the "growth in health spending is expected to be influenced by changes in economic growth, faster growth in medical prices, and population aging."

That last segment -- an aging population -- seems particularly relevant to the projected rise in spending. The Baby Boomer population, which accounts for some 76.4 million Americans between ages 51 and 69, is in a period of transition that reflects not only physical health but often retirement and eligibility for Medicare as well.

By 2025, according to the report, one in five Americans will be covered by Medicare, and the costs to insure everyone enrolled will total $18,000 per person.

Many people find they require additional medical help after age 60. Some 65% of adults 60 or older report balance difficulties or dizziness, sometimes on a daily basis. It's also estimated that one out of 10 Baby Boomers have limited physical activity, perhaps only a few days a month. Combined with the cumulative effects of aging, it's said that six out of 10 Baby Boomers will be managing a chronic condition by the year 2030.

That level of illness may also put a strain on doctors, emergency room nurses, and urgent care clinics, as facilities become overpopulated with elderly patients -- and short on working-age staff.

However, we don't have to wait 10 more years to see drastic changes taking place. The study also reports that, for the first time in history, this year's average medical costs per person will exceed $10,000.

While many policymakers want to stem the rise of healthcare spending, it's also important to expand coverage and make the current healthcare system more efficient. The rise of urgent care clinics, for example, takes some of the burden and expense away from emergency rooms and hospitals by dealing with non-life-threatening ailments like fractures, upper respiratory conditions, and back pain.

What's in store for America's future health? Hopefully, the Baby Boomer generation will be as influential in shaping healthcare policy as they are in needing it.