There has never been a better time to enter the world of medical billing and coding. Let me explain why. Healthcare professionals and healthcare students need a solid understanding of the “Age Wave” which will soon hit the United States.
The Age Wave will impact everything which you do as a healthcare professional, and will have key importance to your own healthcare organization and your own career.
The US population over age 65 will grow from its 2000 census level of 34.6 million persons to approximately 82 million in 2050, a 137% increase! The most rapid surge in our senior population will take place between 2011 and 2030. During that 19 year interval, seniors will expand from 13% of our population to 22% of our population. (Source: US Census Bureau).
There really are three converging factors which produce the Age Wave:
1. The Senior Boom
2. The Birth Dearth
3. The Aging of Baby Boomers
Until recently, the US senior population has really been small, in fact smaller than many developed nations, but that is changing rapidly. Medical advancements, new technologies and improved public health information have all contributed to this growth in our aging population.
The good news is that Americans are not only living longer but staying well longer. Aging no longer means that an individual will necessarily be unproductive and unhealthy. It does mean, however, that he or she will utilize significantly more healthcare resources than in younger years. The utilization of medical services increases predictably with age, and likely always will.
The “Birth Dearth” reflects the dramatic drop in present birth rates as compared to the Baby Boom years between 1946 and 1964. Experts feel that there is not likely to be a repeat of the Baby Boom, ever.
The aging of the Baby Boom generation dominates our society and has for decades. The boomers impact every economic and political foundation of our culture. It is interesting to note the business, health, literature, media, television, and civic impacts of the boomers as they move through life. Lobby groups among older adults have increased in number, size and effectiveness, and senior citizens are represented on more community boards and committees then ever before. Their access to legislators and political party organizations has never been better.
In short, the Age Wave will challenge and shake every aspect of our communities, our personal, social and political dynamics. How we respond to this challenge in our own communities will clearly affect the quality of life for our citizens. We will need excellent senior facilities to care for the boomers, including hospitals, clinics,medical equipment services, home health programs, assisted living centers, senior centers, transportation, and senior activity programs. We will need far more allied healthcare professionals — medical assistants, respiratory therapists, nurses, coders, billers, medical office managers, radiographers, medical technologists, physical therapists, nursing assistants and so many others than ever could have been anticipated. A healthcare professional, seeking to plan for the future, should consider this question.
“Am I entering a field of business or an industry which will cater to and serve the booming senior population which is ahead?”
If the answer is yes, then your chances of success are greatly enhanced. Selecting a profession in healthcare which addresses the needs of seniors will give you a tremendous advantage over decades ahead. Medical billing and coding fits that bill exactly.
I listened to an interesting presentation at last year’s American Hospital Association Convention. The speaker was saying, “resist any temptation to decrease the size of your hospital, clinic, nursing home or senior services. Even if you are not as consistently busy as you want right now, just wait, the boomers are coming!”
The time to act is now. You will never be sorry to have entered the medical field at this point in American history. There has never been a better time to study medical billing and coding.