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2011: The New Year Begins With A (Baby) Boom

On January 1, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling became the first of the baby-boom generation to qualify for Medicare. She’s hardly alone: The baby-boom generation will cause enrollment in Medicare to soar. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare enrollment will increase from 47 million today to 64 million in 2020 to 80 million people by 2030. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying into the program to support each Medicare enrollee will drop from 3.4 (2010) to 2.8 (2020) and then to 2.3 workers per beneficiary in 2030, denying the program the tax revenue needed to sustain it.

What happens then? Well, the President and Congress would have a dismal menu of political and policy choices. They could impose huge tax increases, inflicting great harm on working families and the economy, and they probably couldn’t raise enough money anyway from taxes without other changes in the program.

They could slash benefits for everyone enrolled in Medicare, impose means-testing so only low-income elderly would qualify, increase beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket contributions, limit access to beneficial services (rationing, anyone?), cut how much Medicare pays doctors and hospitals, and/or privatize the program (but if you are over 65 and have chronic health conditions, good luck finding affordable private health insurance). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Happy Birthday, Baby Boomers: One More Eligible For Medicare Every 8 Seconds

Today begins a lame duck session of Congress before it breaks for Thanksgiving. It’s the final chance to work out a temporary patch to Medicare reimbursement before a 23 percent cut takes effect Dec. 1. Doctors are going to stop taking new Medicare patients if the cuts happen. And, as one breast cancer surgeon explains, if Medicare stops paying, so to private insurers and even military health programs. Congress will meet in December, but the damage will be done.

This all is happening two weeks before the baby boomers become eligible for Medicare. That populous generation starts to turn 65 beginning on Jan. 1, which means they become eligible for Medicare on Dec. 1, which, as we mentioned, is the day the 23 percent Medicare pay cut kicks in. Boomers will continue to become eligible for Medicare, one person every eight seconds, until December 2029. (CNN, The Washington Post, USA Today)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Baby Boomers Are Bypassing Primary Care

Office-based practices are focusing increasingly on patients 45 and older, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2008, those 45 and older accounted for 57 percent of all office visits, compared to 49 percent in 1998. Prescriptions, scans and time spent with the doctor also became increasingly concentrated on those middle aged and older, according to data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Also, physician visits increasingly concentrated on medical and surgical specialists and less on care provided by primary care practitioners for those ages 45 and older. Furthermore, for patients ages 65 and older, the percentage of visits to primary care specialists decreased from 62 percent to 45 percent from 1978 to 2008, while the percentage of visits to physicians with a medical or surgical specialty increased from 37 percent to 55 percent. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Primary Care Shortage: What We Can Do Today

The new healthcare reform law, which is called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), will be a huge disappointment to the millions of previously-uninsured people who finally purchase insurance policies when they try to find a doctor.

Primary care physicians are already in short supply and the most popular ones have closed practices or long waits for new patients. Imagine when 2014 hits and all of those patients come calling. Who is going to be available to treat them? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Baby Boomers And Skin Cancer

Baby boomers may have a new reputation. According to new cancer research, they are five times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma — the type of skin cancer that kills the most people.

The incidence rates of melanoma have risen from 7 cases per 100,000 people in the 1970’s to 36 cases per 100,000 today. The rising rate corresponds to the increase in tanning during the 1970’s, when baby boomers were young adults.

Parents and grandparents of teens should be checked by dermatologists as part of their preventive healthcare. I can only hope that teens today will be responsible for the stopping of this increase as they’ve grown up with the message that sunscreen is important and should be a daily part of their lives.

Photo credit: tata_aka_T

This post, Baby Boomers And Skin Cancer, was originally published on Healthine.com by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

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