Health insurance problems for baby boomers

The headlines blared today, “Baby boomers surgeries on the rise.” What does this mean? Baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are getting surgeries more than ever before. So much that the surgery rates have tripled!

What does this have to do with health insurance rates? A lot. Surgeries are a big deal. The most popular surgery for baby boomers is knee replacements. I can’t even imagine replacing my knees as such a young age.  The article purports that baby boomers are struggling to stay more active than any other generation, and their bodies are not handling it.  Instead of struggling with a cane, boomers are opting for surgery.

There is a problem, or should I say, problems.  Surgeries like this have generally been used on older adults. Therefore, the risks on younger patients have not been established. One big one is replacing the replacement. The original replacements were meant to last a certain amount of time on a significantly older individual. By using knee replacements on younger patients who are more active, there is a greater chance of the replacement needed to be replaced, which doubles the total surgeries one person would have.

Do these baby boomers really need the surgery? With our fast food type obsession with almost everything, a fast fix is the biggest desire. Some boomers feel that any type of discomfort should be eliminated, and TV ads and other marketing by hip and knee replacement companies show them that early surgery is an option. And doctors do not want to disappoint.

How does this affect health care? A higher increase of surgeries can be taxing to health care costs. Many of these boomers are reaching senior citizen age, which means they are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare– both insurance programs paid by the government. If boomers who have Medicaid or Medicare are using their insurance to cover this increase of surgeries, it will tax the government budget. Those boomers who are not eligible to receive Medicaid could still drive up healthcare costs. An increase of surgeries, however unnecessary, could also tax insurance companies. If health insurance companies have not been accounting for the fact that boomers are now becoming surgery hogs, they will find a deficit. And to counter that deficit, health insurance premiums will go up for everyone to try and balance that cost.

I think we all can agree that surgery of any kind, at any age is serious. It should be carefully considered and all options should be weighed. But the best thing you can do is prevent surgeries the best you can.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight taxes the joints in your knees and hips. This does not mean that you need to have a stick thin body, but maintaining a healthy weight will prolong unnecessary surgery.
  • Work out the right way. Avoid any stress on your joints. Warm up well before you begin any work out. Do not work out above your ability.
  • If you are starting any new work out program, consult your physician.