In the meantime, here is an article worth a read despite being a little stale dated: What is driving health care costs? And here is anothe: The Costly Paradox of Health-Care Technology.
The problem appears complex -- this should come as no surprise -- and the media's immediate scapegoat, seniors, may be wrong. For an example of a well written but quite possibly wrong-headed take on seniors and their affect on the healthcare system, read this piece by Larry Cornies which ran in The London Free Press: Boomers duty-bound to reduce health-care footprint. Compare the Cornies article with this one from The Economist with a section titled: Money and mortality: the implications ofaging on healthcare costs.
According to The London Free Press reporting on a talk by David Foot, the demand for health care in Ontario will ramp up sharply when baby boomers hit their senior years. Foot believes, "We have about a decade to get health care right before it hits the fan."
Many would agree with Foot that there is a growing problem, but many would argue that the health care issue is not driven by the increasing costs associated with health care for the elderly. The Globe and Mail, a competitor to The Free Press in their home market, carried a story with quite a different slant. Globe writer Andre Picard wrote:
"This alarmist view of our aging society is challenged in a thoughtful new report from the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
"Instead of falling prey to ageist fear-mongering, Neena Chappell, the Canada research chair in social gerontology and a professor in the Centre on Aging of the University of Victoria, takes a level-headed look at the data and offers up practical solutions for meeting the health needs of the baby boom generation."
The Globe piece goes on to argue a position that I have seen in print many times. I wondered why The Free Press reporter didn't question Prof. Foot on this point. The Globe accurately reported the following:
"There have been, of late, a number of studies debunking the notion that seniors are principally to blame for spiraling health costs. In fact, it is new technologies, new drugs and higher wages for health professionals (physicians in particular) that are pushing up costs."To read the two stories, here are the links:
This is an issue that is very important to me. I am a senior and a baby boomer. I watched as my maternal grandparents aged and finally slipped away. Both lived into their 90s and neither was a big drain on the health care system. They lived in their own home until their mid 80s and then they moved in with my mother and me for their remaining years.
When my mother found herself on her own after the death of my grandparents, she moved in with my sister. After more than a decade living in Oakville, she packed her bags and moved in with me in London. When I got married my mother was part of the package. She lived with me and my new family until she died at 89.
Families taking care of loved ones in their final years are more common than you might think. The government should encourage families and support them in their efforts to take care of aging parents and grandparents.
In one area both The Globe and The Free Press reports agree: We, as a society, need a plan as we prepare for the dramatic growth in the number of seniors. What we don't need are scare stories.