The Nation

The Nation

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Looming Health-Care Crisis

With the number of Americans aged 65 and older doubling to 70 million by 2030, the National Academies issued a dire warning yesterday: The nation's health-care system is utterly unprepared to deal with the flood of geriatric health problems the aging population will have.

The academies' Institute of Medicine recommends urgent action to boost the number of family members, doctors and nurses trained to care for the elderly. Medicare, Medicaid and other health plans, for example, should increase pay to those who care for the aged to help attract health care workers to geriatrics, the report urged.

By 2030, the number of adults 65 and older will make up almost 20 percent of the population. Currently, this age group makes up 12 percent of the U.S. population and accounts for:

26 percent of all physician office visits

35 percent of all hospital stays

34 percent of all prescriptions

38 percent of all emergency-medical-service responses

90 percent of all nursing-home use

© 2008 The Washington Post Company