The elderly population is also gaining economic wealth, which is a large resource shift for this age group. In addition to this, almost 50 percent of the Boomers in the United States already have a chronic disease, and 20 percent of adults that receive community based long term care are Boomers43. These numbers will only continue to increase as the Boomer population ages over the next few decades. Stronger health plans must be established for the large population of aging and sick Boomers.
The growing age of Boomers is a politically savvy group with the largest percentage of people who vote. The group as a whole has a large influence on the medical situation in the United States44 because of their size. Anyone over 50 can join the AARP (the second largest membership in the country), which is amassing a large population of followers, and continues to grow. This group advocates healthcare for the aging population, and has one of the most influential voices in healthcare policy making due to its size45. As the Boomers continue to age, they will have an extremely influential role on deciding the future of healthcare.
However, there are experts who believe that the aging of the Boomers does not pose a threat to the future of healthcare in the United States. Theodore R. Marmor addresses this issue in his 2001 article: How Not to Think About Medicare Reform. Marmor states: “There is no correlation between the aging of the population and spending on medical care.46” Marmor urges Americans to disregard the hype that surrounds the aging of the Boomers, and instead look at the big picture; which he states does not show that the aging Boomers will put healthcare (especially Medicare) in jeopardy.
Financial surveys taken about the Boomers show trends that are not positive. Data about the Boomers shows that social security is the principle retirement income for approximately 80% of all Boomers47. This does not provide a strong economic outlook, as social security was designed as a means to assist the elderly, but not be the entire means for financial support. In addition to this, most Boomers’ have a net worth well under $50,00048; which does not provide a vast amount of resources for necessary healthcare. This means that as the Boomers age and need more frequent doctor visits, more prescription drugs, and surgical procedures, the government will need to find a way to subsidize their needs.
An often-lobbied point among the Boomers is prescription drug coverage (as it is not covered under Medicare). Data shows that baby Boomers’ have a higher drug trend, and are the group responsible for increasing the per-person drug spending, (not the elderly,) says a study done by Merck-Medco49. This means that the Boomers will strongly urge the government to pass prescription-subsidizing bills because the majority of Boomers will not be able to afford them without government assistance.
One of the main problems in adapting a Canadian system is the difference in societal values between the two countries. Not only are the healthcare systems opposite in Canada and United States, but so are some of the main societal values. The United States takes part in the belief of “each man for his own,” insinuating that if one has the means to provide themselves and their family with top-notch healthcare, then they should be able to without problems.
On the other hand, Canadians have a more equalitarian, and more caring approach toward the healthcare situation. They acknowledge that not everyone will be employed at all times, or will have enough funds to provide themselves and their family with adequate healthcare. Therefore, they provide the essentials for all Canadian citizens to access proper and basic healthcare. Canadians care about the entire population, not just the rich, which allow them to justify their branch of healthcare systems, and which is why establishing a Canadian system in America might be a struggle. Canadians also have more of a national community, and not as much distrust of the centralized government, as compared to the United States, where the citizens are often extremely critical of the government. This makes people in the United States less likely to trust those who hold a political office; especially with important factors, such as their health.
The current state of healthcare in the United States is in crisis. As the population of Baby Boomers age, and more and more of the population demands healthcare coverage, is it necessary that appropriate changes are made. HMOs continue to deny coverage, prescription drug costs are skyrocketing, and the United States is spending billions of dollars on healthcare more than virtually all other nations in the world. However, coming to a consensus on what changes should be implemented will be a struggle in the United States because the values and expectations of the American population are extremely unique, and differ from the Canadian ideals. If America wants to continue having a healthy nation, we must propose new ideas that will allow all citizens to receive payment-assisted healthcare.