Baby Boomers Will Become Sicker Seniors Than Earlier Generations

There will be 55 percent more people with diabetes as Baby Boomers become senior citizens, a report finds.

There will be 55 percent more people with diabetes as Baby Boomers become senior citizens, a report finds. Rolf Bruderer/Blend Images/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Rolf Bruderer/Blend Images/Getty Images

The next generation of senior citizens will be sicker and costlier to the health care system over the next 14 years than previous generations, according to a new report from the United Health Foundation. We’re talking about you, Baby Boomers.

The report looks at the current health status of people aged 50 to 64 and compares them to the same ages in 1999.

The upshot? There will be about 55 percent more senior citizens who have diabetes than there are today, and about 25 percent more who are obese. Overall, the report says that the next generation of seniors will be 9 percent less likely to say they have good or excellent overall health.

That’s bad news for Baby Boomers. Health care costs for people with diabetes are about 2.5 times higher than for those without, according to the study.

It’s also bad news for taxpayers.

The Health Of Baby Boomers As They Age, For Better And Worse

  • GOOD: 50 percent fewer smokers
  • BAD: 55 percent more people with diabetes
  • BAD: 25 percent more people who are obese
  • BAD: 9 percent less likely to say they have “very good” or “excellent” health

Source: UnitedHealth Foundation

“The dramatic increase has serious implications for the long-term health of those individuals and for the finances of our nation,” says Rhonda Randall, a senior adviser to the United Health Foundation and chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions, which sells Medicare Advantage plans.

Most of the costs will be borne by Medicare, the government-run health care system for seniors, and by extension, taxpayers.

Some states will be harder hit than others. Colorado, for example, can expect the numbers of older people with diabetes to increase by 138 percent by 2030, while Arizona will see its population of obese people over 65 grow by 90 percent.

There is some good news in the report, too.

People who are now between 65 and 80 years old have seen their overall health improve compared to three years ago. And people who are aging into the senior community are far less likely to smoke than earlier generations.

“Some of these trends are very good and in the right direction,” Randall tells Shots.

She says the decrease in smoking shows that it’s possible to change health behaviors, nothing that doctors, public health professionals and policy makers used a variety of strategies simultaneously to reduce smoking.

“That’s a good model for what we need to look at to tackle the epidemic of diabetes and the big concern we have around obesity,” she says.

The study also ranked states on the health of their current senior populations. Massachusetts topped the list, jumping to number one from the number six ranking it had the last time the rankings were calculated. Vermont slipped to number two.

Louisiana is the least healthy state for older adults.

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Louisiana Poised To Expand Hate-Crime Law To Protect Police

Officers investigate the scene of a shooting in Baton Rouge, La., in February.

Officers investigate the scene of a shooting in Baton Rouge, La., in February. Bill Feig/AP hide caption

toggle caption Bill Feig/AP

It’s a first for the so-called Blue Lives Matter movement: The Louisiana Legislature has passed a bill that expands hate-crime laws to include protections for police and other first responders.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who comes from a family of sheriffs, is expected to sign the bill into law.

“The legislation allows Louisiana prosecutors to seek stiffer penalties against people convicted of intentionally targeting police officers, firefighters or emergency medical crews,” NPR’s Debbie Elliott reports.

Debbie notes that the measure passed easily in both the state House and Senate.

A former East Baton Rouge parish attorney told NBC that the bill was unnecessary.

“As a former prosecutor I know for a fact that battery of a police officer is already covered by other laws here in Louisiana,” Terrel Kent told NBCBLK. “To include essential peace officers, sheriffs, law enforcement officials or first responders is a slap in the face to protected classes.”

Protected classes in the state’s current hate-crime legislation are: race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry and organizational affiliation.

The Anti-Defamation League, an advocate for hate-crime laws, opposes the Louisiana legislation. In a statement earlier this month, the organization said hate-crime laws “should remain limited to immutable characteristic, those qualities that can or should not be changed.” The group also said it was concerned the addition in Louisiana would “open the door” to other categories being worked into such laws.

Rep. Lance Harris, who introduced the bill, told CNN, “If you’re going to have an extensive hate crime statute then we need to protect those that are out there protecting us on a daily basis.”

Blue Lives Matter, which advocates for law enforcement, is a response to Black Lives Matter — a movement critical of policing in minority communities.

The Louisiana bill followed the fatal shooting of Texas Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth in August. Goforth’s death stoked fears of increased attacks against law enforcement. Harris has cited threats against law enforcement as justification for his bill.

But, as NPR’s Martin Kaste reported in September, national crime statistics actually show a downward trend in recent years of officers killed in the line of duty.

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