Baby Boomers – A health care crisis is approaching

Baby boomers are rapidly approaching retirement age, and as they do, there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed, particularly in the area of ​​health care. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any easy answers to the health problems baby boomers, and the population at large, will face in the very near future.

Baby boomers are people born between 1946 and 1964. During this period, the United States of America saw an explosion in birth rates that had never been seen before and nothing has been seen since. Today, baby boomers make up about 28% of the total population of the United States of America.

Since this group of people make up such a large portion of the population, it is predicted that there will be a great financial strain on the healthcare system as a whole as the baby boomers reach retirement age. There are many reasons why health care will be in trouble as baby boomers retire and need long-term care.

Baby boomers are the nurses

Go to any healthcare facility today and look around you at the nurses who work there. One thing will become abundantly clear to you; the vast majority of nurses who work in healthcare are baby boomers themselves. We’ve been hearing about nurse shortages in recent years and predictions that these nurse shortages will only get worse.

There are many reasons why the United States of America is currently experiencing a nurse shortage. Nursing has historically been a career dominated by women. Women have made great strides in their pursuit of equality in recent decades; much of this progress is attributed to women belonging to the baby boom generation. With these advances in equality, women have realized that they have many more career choices than being a nurse, a teacher, or a homemaker. Today, women run the largest companies in America, earn great salaries and enjoy great prestige.

A twofold problem

As the baby boomers retire, a twofold problem arises. First, there will be even fewer nurses because baby boomers are such a large part of the current nursing workforce. The second part of the problem is that as baby boomers, 28% of our population, retire, they will need more health care as part of the aging process.

As you can see, there are some serious health issues that need to be addressed. Healthcare leaders have been working extremely hard to find a solution. Unfortunately, their efforts have had only a minimal impact on increasing the nursing workforce.

Healthcare companies have tried everything from raising salaries to offering outrageous sign-up bonuses. Money doesn’t seem to be the key to getting people interested in nursing. Research a group of nurses and most will not complain about their salary. What they will complain about is the daily workload they face. Nurses are overworked and carrying increasing patient burdens due to shortages.

Combine this with the fact that nurses, who typically enter the healthcare industry to provide direct patient care, are being forced to handle more administrative duties. Some of these tasks include over-charting to meet Medicare and insurance company requirements, and trying to get patient care certified or paid for by insurance companies. Most nurses didn’t become nurses to sit in front of a computer and talk on the phone for hours.

How will this affect baby boomers?

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Advances in medical technology and science mean people are living longer. However, this does not always mean that there is a high quality of life for those who live longer. Many of these people who would have died from a medical condition 20 years ago are living a long time now. These people often require a lot of long-term care, whether at home or in a long-term care facility.

Those receiving long-term home care need nurses to assist them with their daily tasks. The following is a quote taken directly from the Medicare website (http://www.medicare.gov/LongTermCare/Static/Home.asp)

Medicare generally does not pay for long-term care. Medicare only pays for medically necessary, skilled nursing facilities or home care. However, you must meet certain conditions before Medicare can pay for this type of care. Most long-term care is to help people with supportive services, such as activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. Medicare does not pay for this type of care called “custodial care.” Custodian care (unskilled care) is care that helps you with activities of daily living. It can also include care that most people do for themselves, for example monitoring diabetes.”

There’s also a lot of talk about whether or not Medicare will exist for decades to come. Consider the fact that 28% of the population will no longer contribute to Medicare through taxes, while at the same time 28% will use more of the funds.

Is it all really so bleak?

Yes and no. It is true that there are no easy solutions to address the shortage of nurses in the foreseeable future, while the need for nurses will increase enormously. It is also true that the economics of supply and demand will create a situation where healthcare will become even more expensive as healthcare providers continue to raise salaries in hopes of attracting nurses.

So where’s the good news you ask? The good news is that nurse recruitment is showing “some” success. Young people are showing a renewed interest in nursing, thanks in large part to massive marketing campaigns by nursing schools and healthcare organizations. The downside of this is that these young people are going for the higher nursing degrees such as Registered Nurse (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP), but the lower (lower paying) jobs such as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Certified Medical Assistants (CMAs) remain understaffed . These are the ones that usually provide direct care, while the RNs and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) meet the accreditation requirements through all the mapping and talking to insurance companies.

The other good news is that insurance companies plan ahead and offer long-term care insurance plans that allow you or your loved ones to pay nurses for long-term care. Many baby boomers are taking their future into their own hands by purchasing these long-term care insurance plans.

Finally, leaders in government and healthcare are working hard to address this predictable problem. Since these are predictable events, they can be planned as much as possible.