How seniors control healthcare costs

The two most costly budget items for older adults are housing and health care. Health care takes a $3 trillion dollar hit on the U.S. budget. Deloitte reports that we spend more on medical expenditures over many countries in the world. In 2013 alone, our nation paid 117% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and in 2014, it grew by 4.9 percent.

Even Medicare has no cost protection for seniors. People over 65 have high medical bills because many of them live with at least one chronic illness, while others have two. And aging adults pay a larger share of the premiums. They also bear more out of pocket expenditures. As people endure chronic diseases, the costs will keep going up.

Several trends that seniors should pay close attention are identified below. These developments directly relate to the rising cost of health care. Below, are a few remarks and suggestions provided by aging experts. They focus on various health care issues.

The trend toward self-management/empowerment is already changing things and will continue to do so. Consumers seek out information and come prepared with questions for providers (and research who has best success rates, etc.). Online medical record systems and communications tools, transparent data etc. will be demanded by patients. They all have possibilities to improve healthcare. Shannon Martin

Information is power and wearables and apps that save patient’s doctor office appointments and help manage medical care and chronic conditions will empower patients. The apps will continue to transform healthcare. Artificial intelligence will become a significant segment in health care as the workforce shrinks and the older population grows. Betsie Sassen

Hospitals seem to be releasing patients who need extensive nursing and follow-up care earlier and earlier. Friends and family members are often ill-equipped and overwhelmed trying to care for their ailing loved one at home. Margo Rose

One trend that I earlier applauded was computerization. BUT if they follow the path many banks are taking, which is to make copies and then archive (and often LOSE) paperwork, it may become a serious issue! Kaye Swain

People ask if more health care tests and treatments are better than less? As Patient Advocates replace M.D.s, the secretary supplants the nurse, and the insurance customer service line encourages self-care, patients look at other sources for their health care advice. Many people will save money, and some will find real help while others may get sicker as they delay getting a real diagnosis and treatment. Caryn Issacs

Hopefully, the trend towards disease prevention will increase. People are drinking less soda, both regular and diet, which is good. Carefully constructed legislation, public health education efforts and personal responsibility are on the rise. It can potentially have an enormous impact not only on the lives of all but the healthcare bills in the United States. Kim Crawford, M.D.

People need to learn to be advocates of their health. Caregiving requires a new generation of thinking and blending innovative ideas to change health care. Remember to ask your doctor and other medical professionals more questions. Laurie Miller

The boomer cohort is being trained with the smartphone and fitness technologies to help them transition to telehealth and telemedicine. This disruption will challenge the existing health care delivery models as the expectations for the provision of services increase. Fritzi Gros-Daillon

Where are all the Caregivers? I see that as the trend for Home Care agencies. I hear all the time “we need caregivers.” We need to promote their work. Caregivers remain in the shadows, and that needs to change. Bryan London

Within the U.S. and around the world healthcare systems are facing depleting resources. For instance, with the growing pressure on our government to reduce costs there needs to be an expanded collaboration between government funding and the private sector for medical research. With intensified alliances between the two, we will see increased treatment options for numerous diseases. David Mordehi

People are receptive to using robotics in health care. Even drones become a strength for good medical care. You see individuals wearing trackable watches for physical activities and use apps on iPhones. These types of digital diagnostics will create robust health platforms that will move beyond popular apps and trackers. Evan Farr

As Healthcare Informatics continue to thrive, we must watch data and its integrity. As an advocate, my concern is how we will reach and maintain truth in data. Will it be used to market or muddy? Confirm eligibility or deny access? We all know numbers are massaged, and messages spun. Protection of data and processes will forever require the eyes of consumers and watchdogs. Nancy Ruffner


  1. This should be titled “what’s wrong with the health care system”. Where is the way seniors control costs?

  2. We, in the UK have similar problems.

    Although our National Health Service (NHS) provides free medical care, budgetary constraints are stretching resources all the time. Social Care is not generally free and, increasingly older people are having to use all of their savings and/or sell their homes in order to pay for care.

    Often, the true cost of care is hidden by the fact that family members, friends, or charities are providing the care and, as life expectancy increases, so does the problem.

    The NHS often see elderly patients, who desperately need to remain for longer in hospital because they have no-one at home to look after them, as bed blockers. They are often discharged far too soon, and, as a result, end up having to be re admitted. This results in a vicious circle and can cause resentment of the elderly.

    We do not yet have a system of compulsory medical, or care, insurance, but I believe it will come, and sooner than most people think!

  3. I’m an administrator of a Facebook group for the 55+ age segment – most members struggle with health care costs and medications — due to multiple illnesses. Since Medicare doesn’t have safeguards in place to protect high costs, group members have the fear that the market will soon be too costly to have coverage. Also, many members believe that social care is totally free — it’s an interesting perspective that Peter Matthews shares above.

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