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More geriatricians are needed to care for seniors

Industry News | Jul 21, 2014

Just like a baby benefits from receiving care from a pediatrician, an elderly person benefits from the expertise of a geriatrician.

More than 81 million adults will be 65 and older by 2040, representing nearly 20 percent of the total population, according to the Medicare Newsgroup. And as the U.S. population continues to get older, more care providers will be needed. While these positions are still getting filled, the question still remains if the care will be tailored to the specific needs of seniors.

"All the talk in Medicare right now is about new models of care-taking providers and putting them into various configurations such as ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations)," Jack Rowe, a geriatrician who teaches health policy and management at Columbia and Stanford universities, told the Medicare Newsgroup. "But there is no conversation about the quality of the providers themselves and the preparation they've been given for the problems of old age."

Rowe advocates that geriatricians should be playing a larger role in the nation's health care system, especially as the population of elderly people continues to rise with aging baby boomers.

"We've made great strides in past 40 years," he said. "I've been doing geriatrics since the early 1970s and have seen incredible progress in both the science and the clinical practice competence in America. That's the 'glass half full' perspective."

Rowe puts it this way because he knows more needs to be done to prepare for the road ahead. According to a report from the Merck Institute of Aging and Health and the Gerontological Society of America, if geriatric training were required at every medical school, it would still take over 40 years before physicians with training in geriatrics could replace those without training.

"The current and projected supply of geriatricians is unlikely to be large enough to allow geriatricians to play a prominent, hands-on role in care provision for most or even many of the elderly Medicare beneficiaries who are likely to benefit from geriatricians' skills and experience," said Laura D'Arcy, lead author on the study.

Preparing for later in life with Medicare
Those nearing 65 will want to ready themselves for the costs of care later in life by learning about Medicare Supplement insurance. While geriatricians might be in short supply, Medicare Supplement insurance can make sure a retiree has the care they need, without being devastated by the costs.

There are a number of parts someone will have to consider when shopping for Medicare Supplement insurance and here are some popular ones:

  • Medicare Part A: This covers the costs of inpatient care at a hospital, a skilled nursing facility and hospice.
  • Medicare Part B: Also referred to as medical insurance, this part covers the cost of doctors and health care provider services, medical equipment, outpatient care, home health care and other preventative services.
  • Medicare Part D: This coverage is in place for someone who wants to pay for medications with Medicare, as this part can be added to either part A or B.