California Aging Population Likely To Increase Health Care Costs

California’s growing aging population likely will pose several challenges, including new costs on taxpayers for health care services, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Background

According to the Bee, California’s population over age 65 is expected to grow from 4.5 million individuals — or 11% of the current population — to more than 11 million by 2050. Specifically, the State Department of Finance projects that the over-65 population will account for:

  • 15% of the overall population by 2020;
  • 20% by 2030; and
  • 22.3% by 2050.

In addition, the aging population will become more ethnically mixed over the next several decades, the Bee reports.

Health Care Challenges

As the state’s population ages, officials expect to face higher health care costs as demand for services increases (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 11/15).

A California HealthCare Foundation report released in August found that as the state’s population ages, demand for health care services will increase. CHCF publishes California Healthline (California Healthline, 8/7). The report projected, “At current rates of use, demand could exceed supply of skilled nursing facility beds by 2020 and residential care community beds shortly after 2030” (Sacramento Bee, 11/15).

Meanwhile, the California Health and Human Services Agency’s “strategic plan” for the aging population notes, “Because disability prevalence rises steeply with age and the population will be more concentrated in older ages, the overall numbers of disabled elderly will inch upward after 2030 as the population ages” (California HHSA report, 10/13/03).

According to the Bee, the growing demand for health care services among aging residents could be further exacerbated as health care workers of similar ages begin to retire.

Meanwhile, younger taxpayers in the state likely will have to cover the costs of services for the aging population, the Bee reports.

For example, while the elderly are covered by Medicare, the program does not cover some costs, such as extended nursing home care. As a result, the costs could shift to Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program (Sacramento Bee, 11/15).

Source: California Healthline