More bucks to treat boomers

As reported by Medical News Today on September 10, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reported that in 2007, U.S. hospitals spent in the neighborhood of $56 billion treating baby boomers ages 55 to 64. This represents 16% of hospitals’ overall patient care costs. And by 2020 boomers are expected to increase by 18%-faster than any group under age 65.

In its News and Numbers, which is based on data in 2007’s Hospital Utilization Among Near-Elderly Adults, Ages 55 to 64 Years, AHRQ’s analysis found that it cost hospitals almost as much to treat baby boomers as it did to treat the older generation of 65- to 74-year-olds, $56 billion and $59 billion respectively. On the other side of the coin, baby boomers cost hospitals $10 billion more than the younger generation of patients 45 to 54 years old.

Other findings:

  • The average cost for a baby boomer patient was $11,900.

  • Baby boomers were two to three times more likely than the population of 45- to 54-year-olds to be hospitalized for osteoarthritis, stroke, respiratory failure, irregular heartbeat, COPD, blood infections, and congestive heart failure. They also more likely to undergo knee and hip replacements and have heart bypass surgery.

  • It was found that about 37% of baby boomer patients were covered by public insurance (primarily Medicaid), 52% had private insurance, and 6% were uninsured.

The Hospital Utilization Among Near-Elderly Adults, Ages 55 to 64 Years report used statistics from the 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays in short-term, non-federal hospitals. The data includes all patients regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.


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Letter to the Editor

Thinking ‘right on target’

Really enjoyed the latest issue of Long-Term Living and especially your [Editor Maureen Hrehocik’s] editorial “The Gift of Purpose.” Very well done and thought-provoking. I also commend you on the story “Leadership through tough financial times”. LTC has lacked strong leadership for a very long time and James Collins’ thinking is right on target.

In the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area many LTC facilities are suffering from new transitional care units [TCUs] developed by most of the hospitals. The TCUs have siphoned off many skilled and rehab patients who formerly would have gone to SNFs. I do not know if this is a national problem but wanted you to be aware of the issue.

Continued good luck on your new position for a great magazine.

William V. Day

St. Barnabas Health System

Long-Term Living 2009 October;58(10):10

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