While this should not be a surprise to anyone, as I have learned on a first-hand basis as we get older we spend more money on our medical needs. I tell you I have visited the doctor more over the last 12 months than probably the previous 42 years combined. I am falling apart as I age!
When it comes to getting older, the data shows that senior citizens (those over the age of 65) make up about 34% of our nation’s health care spending, even though they account for only about 13% of the population. As we age, we spend more on medical bills.
While I am far from a senior citizen (even though I sometimes feel like it these days!) I have been to the doctor several times over the last 12 months, and most of those visits have been over the last 6 months. Prior to this year I went to the doctor maybe once every 3 years…yes, I was bad about not getting an annual physical!
How much medical care do older people need?
The data from CMS – U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is kind of astounding to me though. If senior citizens make up 13% of the population, yet account for 34% of health care expenses, that means that they use almost 3 times the resources as everyone else. While of course it is common sense to know they use more of the medical system, personally I am astounded by 3 times as much.
But then again, maybe I am starting to see that now! I am far from a senior citizen at the “young” age of 43. Just as recently as about 4 months ago my doctor said I was one of the healthiest patients in his (and his peers) entire practice and said that I have better vital signs, am in better shape, etc. than most 30 year olds…which is objective data. But things are starting to catch up to me now!
Over the last few months I had to go to the doctor as I literally fell of a treadmill and messed up my leg. A few months ago I had an eye that would not stop “twitching” with occasional stabbing pain. I strongly suspected it was stress related, so I tried to calm down more/mediate, etc. but I could not get it to stop; so another doctor visit. Now a few weeks ago I messed up my shoulder at the gym and haven’t been able to lift my arm above my head and/or work out, even as of this morning…ugghhh!. And there were some other doctor visits too, including having a mole cut off me by a dermatologist before it became cancerous! ugghhh And this is me, at 43 starting to fall apart. I can now better understand the medical struggles of a senior citizen.
Luckily, I have a top tier health insurance plan…and I am finally getting to use it! But many other Americans, and seniors, may not have the same access to resources that I do. So, while they are spending 34% of medical bills in our country, they may not always be getting the best care.
What I also think is beneficial is using alternative forms of care. By that I mean I have become a member of Massage Envy , in which I pay a fixed monthly rate to get one or more massages each month. I am doing some yoga now, and of course the gym membership. I am also going to therapy for mental health, meditating, go for nature and beach walks, and doing other things to try to limit overall medical expenses. As experts say if you mediate, get regular massages from Massage Envy, enjoy nature, etc. this help reduce stress, injuries, etc. and cut back on medical bills.
Senior citizens can and are encouraged to do the same things. My mom, who is 79, plays bridge daily to keep her mind sharp. Some of her friends do Zumba, join walking clubs, etc. Anything to stay healthy both mentally and physically. All of that can help senior citizens as well as older people cut back on their health care needs.
Older people will always have higher health care needs. But as the population ages across our country, we as a society can only hope that they do not continue to use up to 3 times as many resources. Maybe they can find some alternatives ways to live healthy. As the medical system will not be able to sustain that usage of seniors, or will our nation’s budget (Medicaid, Medicare, etc.).