Riding the Age Wave

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.

25 Responses to “Riding the Age Wave”

  1. Magaly Vargas-Ortiz

    In Medical Insurance and Billing, I learned how important it is to code correctly and be precise. The more information one has regarding the procedure(s)/disease(s) the better one can do their job. I learned that the different types of insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, may vary in their rules about reimbursement. In my own life I already respect the meaning of medical necessity. My mom always said “without your health it is impossible to earn a living, but with your health you can try to work for as much money as you want”. I think being a patient advocate is a very important, tedious, yet rewarding career; it is a career that can spin off from medical billing or a health science degree.

  2. Elise Martin

    I am very excited to be entering this field at this time. When I chose this field, I knew that anything in the medical field was going to have a great chance of getting a job, but I didn’t realize I would like it as much as I am. I wanted to do something that I would enjoy working at for potentially the next 20-25 years. I wanted something to keep me interested and challenged and that would help others. I am very pleased with what I have been learning and where this is going. I was also amazed by the statistics represented in the blog because I hadn’t been aware that some of the numbers were as high as they are. I can see now why this field is growing so much and it makes a lot more sense to me.

  3. Michele Hall

    I started with Allen Online in April in the Medical and Coding Field, and I love it. The information that is taught to you is “Absolutely Phenominal”
    and some issues I already was aware of and some I was not. This has been a great experience for me and I look forward to receiving my DIPLOMA in November.

  4. Brenda Weston

    When I entered the Allen School is was looking for a way to stay in the medical field but just change what I was doing. I had no idea all of the information that there is that we just don’t think of on a daily basis. I have found it to be very exciting and am looking forward to my journey ahead. In the medical insurance and billing I have learned to be very diligent about finding all of the necessary information for the different insurance companys. I have learned that you have many different types of insurances and there are many things to know about each one so you must keep your education moving forward to stay on top of the game to be a great asset for your employer. There will never be an end to our learning in this field.

  5. Stormie Grogan

    When I first though of going back to school I was unsure of what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to stay in the medical field but unsure as to what road to go down. I spoke with the staff at Allen School and was then clear that I wanted to do Medical Billing and Coding. I am so thankful that I did. I hope to graduate and be on my way to a new and exciting career. I have learned so many things. One of the things I have learned is that you can never be too precise in coding! It is a very complicated and technical field in whice you must stay educated in!

  6. Sono Zhang

    In medical billing and insurance, I learned (from Professor Gulliford’s post) about the extraordinary imbalance in health care capacity to serve the impending arrival of those over 65. Whilst I was generally aware of this demographic trend, I was not aware of the convergence of forces driving it, nor its true magnitude. As suggested by Professor Gulliford, this trend will significantly alter the make-up of the healthcare population in ways not yet fully understood, with undeniable increased demand for qualified health care professionals, including billers and coders.

  7. Lilia Cadotte

    In Interpersonal Communications, I was surprised to learn about new and interesting subjects that have to do with relation to ethical values, religious beliefs; humility and respect for our people. I have enjoyed learning about the diversity in our world and how to effectively communicate with others. Allen school has provided me with a very positive educational experience and the teachers that I have encountered are remarkable wonderful. Joe has done an outstanding job communicating with the students and his responsiveness is great! The others professors such as Margie White, Dr. D, as well as Ms. Willhite have been great instructors and have provided me with such a rewarding experience!

  8. Bibi Shavone Narayan

    I must say that when I first started at the Allen School, I was so sure that it was going to be easy, how hard can it be to just assign a code to a procedure, it’s not exactly rocket science you know, but I was very disappointed!

    It turned out to be much more difficult than I expected!!! It’s more difficult than cutting open a pig [former pre-med final exam] It’s esay to find the codes for some of the procedures but not all. I get scared whenever I have to assign a code, I’m not sure if it’s the right code, if I might get in trouble for assigning the wrong coe, what if this was the job site…would I get fired?? Lots of crazy ideas come to play, but the staff members and professors of the Allen School have been the BEST helpers!!!

    I’m so thankful for all the help they provided, step by step they’re always there to help, they don’t get angry when you get fustrated and they are very reliable!!!!!! I just couldn’t have done without them.


  9. Maria Kaszanics

    Talking about baby boomers I am one of them born in 1962.
    I am so glad that I found Allen school, for it has givin me a head start in a career. I still have many years in front of me to accompolish the goals of medical coding and billing, getting in as much education that I can.

  10. Goldie Loy

    I believe that medical billing and coding is very interesting so far in my learning. It seems like a job that will always have job opening. I believe that the Allen school is a great opportunity for fast learning and great job skills. With the baby boomers generation dominating our society medical billing and coding seems like the best choice when it comes to having a long term career.

  11. Jenica Weaver

    The medical field is always growing and has several kinds of career choices. I chose medical billing and coding as a career because it would benefit my lifestyle. Hospitals or medical offices will always need medical billers or medical coders for patients ages birth to death. Learning online to go to school makes life easier than commuting to an actual school to pursue my career. Overall I am very excited about going to school online to have a career in the medical field.

  12. Brandi Richter

    The medical field is constantly growing, with numerous carreer paths one can choose from. After many years of being in the medical field, I’ve choosen to return to college and learn medical coding and billing. I had my self believing that online learning would be a breeze, how wrong I was. This is way more difficult then I what I thought it would be. But it’s been fun and challenging.
    Insurances and medicare/medicaid laws are always changing. So one will have to continue to learn the new laws and regulations. So you’ll stay on top and be an assett to the company that you might work for.

  13. Roslyn Roe

    I am excited to be learning a new career path. The medical field is a great place to have a career, whether you are a physician, nurse, assistant or work in a specialy, you can’t go wrong. I am one of those Baby Boomers and at 52, looking what is coming ahead for me. Will I have a job or be able to compete with the younger generation to land one. Staying healthy is a great place to start and stay, and has helped with the aging population to live longer. The longer people live the more facililities are going to be needed and offices dealing with gerontology will be on the increase. I am looking forward to my career as a Coding and Billing Specialist.

  14. Roslyn Roe

    You will need to be highly educated in the gerontology area of health care, as this is going to be a very big trend coming. It has started to a point but the main impact is still a couple of years away. Here at Allen School, I plan to get some of that training and be able to ride that wave until I’m one of them. Medical health has made it posible for people to live healther and live longer than ever before.

  15. Denise Cunningham

    The age wave is an interesting topic. I am taking the medical billing and coding class and I am fifty two years young. So far the classes are fun except for the reading, being that this is an online course it requires a lot of reading. There are times when I get off the computer and go straight to the books to read and I have trouble trying to focus, but I am so happy to be able to do this online study. If it were not for the online classes I wouldn’t be able to participate. I have learned a lot and am looking forward to graduation next year.

  16. Kateri Montry

    Great information. This blog has a l lot of interesting time lines and history of our future seniors. I am a baby boomer coming in. I am proud of being a part of The Insurance Billing and Coding Program. I am liking the learning process on how to navigate in and around the internet and word documents. My Instructors keep showing up when I need them the most. I know I have a lot more learning and questions and anxious for it all to make sense. The biggest time waster for me is where to go to find what. That is where I know now that I can just ask and I will be on my way. Again – I am happy to be a part of the winning medical team.

  17. Sandra Schuelke

    I may be entering this field late in life, I am part of the last baby boomers, but I do know our generation, for the most part has good work ethics and dependablity. Its important to bring this to the work place no matter how old you are. I dont have many years left, but I want to spend them at a job that I love and enjoy.

  18. Tharry salley

    One thing I found out from about 15 years ago until now is that there are so many ways to either look for job or educate yourself further. there are so many web sites you can apply for jobs in the medical field or any field for that matter anywhere. If you are planning on moving to another state when you graduate you can start looking and applying for jobs in that area before you even get there. I found sites like healthcareers-online.com which either enhance your skills or helps with job seeking opportunities. Then there is globalhealthjobs.com if you plan to move to Canada when you graduate. All a person has to do is make a game plan and follow through. This course I am taking at Allen School will teach me everything I need to know to succeed. The world is your oyster take a bite.

  19. Cherry Jackson

    “Throughout the MIBC program, I was surprised to learn, that I still had a brain that could retain information. I had many times of doubt, and a good chatting with myself. But in the long run, this is a great career. The opportunities are so aout there in this world. We could travel international to do coding and billing, you could also have the opportunity to work for a military base, and any doctors office or hospital in the U.S.. Even though the economy is in a downward tilt, it will reverse itself, and then with that in mind we will have a great job market to choose from.
    I’ve learned my ability to study again at my old age, that was a feat also. But I’m glad that I attended Allen School and went through this adventure with all my classmates. I will cherish all my time with you and. God Bless and God Speed.

  20. Julie Richardson

    Throughout the MIBC program I was surprised to learn how involved and complex coding can actually be. I never realized how much education and knowledge coders must have to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. I believe that a career in medical coding is going to be a challenging, yet rewarding, secure job. If I had known that this type of job existed years ago, I would have definitely signed on sooner. My personality and skills are quite suitable for coding–accurate, A-type, and organized. I look forward to a new and exciting career in Medical Insurance Billing and Coding. Thank you Allen School for giving me the tools to be successful in my new adventure!

  21. Alicia Lapierre

    Throughout the MIBC program, I was surprised to learn how in-depth coding really is. I didn’t realize how important it was to code accurate and precisely. Also I didn’t realize the important information and how much there really was to coding and billing. This career is very important in the health field because of how the physicians get paid off their services rendered for each patient! I also learned about the types of insurances like Medicare and Medicaid and what they have to offer because I honestly really never knew much about them and now I do! I think having a career as a medical coding and billing specialist is a very time consuming and important but yet very rewarding job!!

  22. Sharon Flittner

    Your post was most informative. I have no question that there is already quite a demand for coders, and that not only will this grow due to the aging population but also because of the conversion to ICD-10 and whatever changes the federal government is going to make with health care insurance. I found very interesting information at aapc.com about their 2009 salary survey results for coders:

    “2009 AAPC Salary Survey Results
    October 1st, 2009

    Salaries for certified medical coding professionals increased an average of four percent from 2008 to 2009, despite economic conditions, according to an annual salary survey conducted by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC, http://www.aapc.com). Certified medical coder salaries rose to an average of $44,750 annually; non-certified coders reported a two percent average salary gain, bringing the average salary to $38,290.

    Education level significantly impacts salary level–a coder with a bachelor’s degree earns $51,820 on average while a coder with a high school diploma earns $40,746.”

    Since I have an MBA, this news is very exciting to me! My basic problem is that I am going to have to wait 2-3 weeks to receive my Allen School completion certificate, then at least 4 weeks to apply to the AAPC for exam approval, and then who knows how long before AAPC publishes a new list of exam dates (none are published currently in my 5-state area beyond 12/26/09). I wrote to the AAPC to ask where future exam dates are, and they responded that they had not yet set these. I truly believe that I need to obtain my CPC certification before I settle on a job because the pay and respect will be greater. Yet, it appears that I may not be in that position until late January or even February!! I am so eager to take the exam NOW while my memory is fresh and my testing skills are honed!
    So, I have decided to apply to positions now anyway, with the disclosure of my CPC certification plans. Perhaps someone will hire me with the assumption that I will obtain the credential within a certain time frame and agree to compensate me accordingly once I have achieved it. That’s all I can hope for. I am very concerned, however, with the fact that few employers want brand new coding graduates without real experience. There is an employer out there who will take a chance with me—I know it!
    Thanks, Sharon Flittner

  23. Dawn Gutierrez

    I started with the Allen School in March 2009. I was in the Hotel/Resturant industry and it had slowed down drastically do to the economy downfall and I new that I had to do something. I was unsure of making such a huge change at this time in my life but with the support of my family and the research that I had done on the internet I new I was making the right move.

    With all the changes that are going to be taking place in 2010 and the conversion to EHRs it is going to be challenging to be apart of that industry. As Professor Guilford has stated, the baby boomers are coming and there is a need for professionals to step-up and get involved. I am so excited to be included.

    I would like to say, ” Thank You” to all who have supported me through this program and talk to you in the threads.

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