Washington, D.C. – With 78 million baby boomers entering or on the verge of retirement, the U.S. needs a more strategic approach for linking health care and housing policies and programs, according to a new Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) paper being released today during an event with the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota.
In Minnesota alone, seniors (those 65 and older) will constitute a larger percentage of the state’s overall population in the coming years. In 2013, seniors accounted for 20 percent or more of the population in just 31 of Minnesota’s 87 counties. By 2030, seniors will reach that milestone in all 87.
BPC’s paper outlines the demographic shifts that will occur as America’s senior population expands, creating major challenges and opportunities for our nation’s health care and housing systems.
- The average life expectancy of Americans continues to increase. The senior population will become increasingly diverse, with the number of Hispanic seniors growing significantly.
- Most seniors will be homeowners, though the number of senior renters will increase dramatically.
- Federal rental-assistance programs will serve a low-income population that is growing increasingly older, while many low-income seniors will continue to struggle with housing affordability.
- Most seniors will seek to age in place in their own homes, yet many homes and communities are ill-equipped to accommodate this desire.
- Seniors with chronic conditions account for an overwhelming share of federal health care spending.
- Home and community-based services will grow in demand as more chronically ill beneficiaries’ age into Medicare and Medicaid programs.
- The incomes and personal savings of seniors will continue to be a critical source of funds to support aging in place, but for many, these resources will be inadequate.
- Older seniors are carrying larger mortgage balances into their retirement years, potentially impacting their ability to finance retirement and aging-in-place needs.
“By more tightly linking health care and housing policy, the U.S. has the potential to improve the health outcomes for seniors, reduce the costs incurred by the health care system, enable millions of seniors to ‘age in place’ in their own homes, and improve their quality of life,” said Vin Weber, former U.S. Representative and co-chair of BPC’s Health and Housing Task Force. “Making these connections is critical as federal government spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs is projected to grow much faster than the overall economy over the next 25 years.”
“Our nation is on the cusp of an unprecedented expansion of its senior population,” said Nikki Rudnick, director of BPC’s Health and Housing Task Force. “In Minnesota, the older adult population is expected to more than double between 2010 and 2030. Health care and housing policy and programs must be better coordinated rather than operating in silos. Collaboration between these fields will enable our growing senior population to receive the care they need in a more efficient, senior-friendly, and cost effective manner.”
Members of the press wishing to interview Vin Weber or Nikki Rudnick, please contact Joann Donnellan at [email protected] or 703-966-1990.
BPC launched its Health and Housing Task Force earlier this year to underscore the importance and connection between the health care and housing fields. They will release recommendations in the spring of 2016.