December 19, 2014

Aging Population Puts Rising Demands on Medicare

While Medicare trustees highlighted the fiscal challenges facing the program last week, the United Health Foundation issued a report that underscores the rising demands on Medicare as increasing numbers of older adults deal with obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Every day 10,000 baby boomers enter the Medicare rolls. They will likely live longer than their predecessors and, consequently, experience more chronic conditions. And by 2050 the number of seniors in the U.S. will rise to 88.5 million, up from 40.3 million today.

The foundation’s report, which ranks individual states on senior health issues, found that adults age 65 and older spend three to five times more on health care than adults younger than 65. Nearly 80 percent of seniors have already been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition, and half have been diagnosed with at least two.

The challenges outlined in the United Health Foundation report illustrate the importance of efforts to put Medicare on a more sustainable fiscal track as well as the need to improve the quality and efficiency of the health care system in the years to come.