Our country is experiencing a profound demographic shift: the rapid growth of the number of Americans aged 65 and older. According to “Aging in the United States,” a report from The Population Reference Bureau, this group will more than double in size from 46 million today to 98 million by 2060, and will account for nearly one quarter of the population. This change is particularly significant for the baby boomer generation, which is expected to fuel an increase of up to 75 percent in the number of seniors who require nursing home care (about 2.3 million by 2030).
While the rise in the aging population is inevitable, there is much that can be done to mitigate the associated impact on health care costs. CVS Health is at the forefront of these efforts, with programs offering additional support and services for those aged 65 and older, especially those with chronic conditions.
Addressing Chronic Disease More Important Than Ever
Seniors are among the millions of Americans suffering from chronic conditions that require lifestyle modifications and daily maintenance medications, including heart disease and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, only a small percentage adopts healthier behaviors and takes medication as prescribed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three in four Americans aged 65 and older have multiple chronic conditions, compared with one in four of the overall American population. In addition to driving up costs, this puts additional pressure on a health care system that is already feeling the strain of an increase in the number of patients and a decrease in the number of providers.
Improving Care, Reducing Costs
By improving support services for the growing senior population, especially for those with chronic conditions, we can direct health care resources to address individual patients’ needs and challenges sooner, leading to greater cost efficiencies and improved health outcomes.
One effective strategy is to provide medication reconciliation and other medication-related support services. For example, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospital readmissions are highest among the Medicare population.
A study by the CVS Health Research Institute found that medication reconciliation programs, in which pharmacists review patients' medication regimens and provide adherence counseling during the transition from hospital to home, reduced risk of hospital readmission by 50 percent and helped avoid unnecessary health care costs.
Other effective approaches include:
Omnicare, a wholly owned subsidiary of CVS Health, is a pharmacy service provider to long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. They provide medication reconciliation services specifically tailored to the needs of the senior population to help reduce readmission rates and encourage optimal health outcomes.
It’s clear that to sustain quality, affordable health care for the aging U.S. population, the health care system will need to continue to evolve. CVS Health is committed to be part of the solution to help keep people on their path to better health.