Next year the first baby boomers will reach the “standard” retirement age of 65 years. I read in the news the doomsday reports of the stock markets collapsing and the health care system falling apart because of the retiring baby boomers.

Is this really going to happen?  I will leave the markets for the moment and discuss my views on the future of health care.

Retiring Baby Boomers

The children born in the post World War II boom years were probably the most well nourished and active kids of any generation. Good early nutrition is one of the backbones, so to speak, of healthful later years.

Baby boomers had plenty of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, chemical-free proteins, and vitamin supplements, not to mention the vaccinations that eliminated, or reduced the effects of, some deadly diseases.  The brittle bones resulting in hip and knee replacements for my parents’ generation, dentures and deteriorating vision should really not be all that prevalent in the coming decades.

While there will always be accidents and diseases and illnesses caused by unhealthy lifestyles, we generally are living longer, are active longer and I think the most serious threat could be mental degeneration rather than physical.

I see my thirty-something neighbours bringing home take-out bags from Burger King and McDonald’s at least three or four times a week, daily slurpees in cups the size I could stick my head in and cases of pop and snacks for the family that seem to be their regular diet.

I hardly ever see kids playing outside in the parks and playgrounds even in the summertime, unless there’s an organized baseball or soccer game.  My friends and brother and I ran off our energy playing made-up games outside in all but the most extreme weather as much as we could.  Of course there were no computers and video games then and I didn’t really watch TV regularly until I was more into my teen years.

Today obesity, especially childhood obesity, is almost an epidemic. Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks in people in their twenties and thirties are no longer unusual – they are almost becoming the norm.  I think this is the generation that will require the most serious health care in the decades to come.

I have heard that the baby boomers will be, overall, the wealthiest retirement generation due to their own earning and investing efforts, and also from becoming the beneficiaries of our frugal, saving parents.  Former finance ministers have tossed around the idea of an inheritance tax.  Probate fees are already quite high in some provinces.

It is my opinion that the younger generation will not entirely be on the hook for increased health care costs for baby boomers.  I fear that, as retired baby boomers become more numerous, their taxes will not only increase, new ones will be implemented.

I think that health care and drug programs will increase their premiums and more and more procedures will be dropped from the health care system and will have to be paid for independently.  Since we will no longer be enrolled in company health and dental insurance plans, the costs will come entirely from our own hard earned money.

What are your thoughts on retiring baby boomers?

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4 Comments

  1. larry macdonald on November 9, 2010 at 5:07 am

    I learned “martial arts” wrestling for fun with my neighbourhood friends in our parents backyards — now my son goes to a dodo at $1k per year.
    Alas, I fear the substantive economies required for our out-of-control health, retirement etc systems may not be undertaken until there is some fiscal or financial crisis.

  2. Ian Brennan on November 9, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I am willing to bet that 80 percent of the wealth associated with the baby boomer generation is concentrated within 20 percent of the group. Also, it has been estimated that as much as one third of life-time health care costs come in the last year of life. Providing for the 80 percent who have not saved enough for retirement, let alone their health care is, to me, a tsunami waiting to happen. So I agree, not only am I expecting to pay a significant portion of my health care out-of-pocket, I am also expecting to pay a much higher rate of tax after retirement, than before!

    • Boomer on November 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

      Ian, re boomer wealth, you’re probably right that it’s concentrated in a small percentage. Unfortunately, that has never stopped the federal gov’t from implementing their “tax reforms” for everyone. I agree with both you and Larry that some sort of changes must be implemented now before the health care system implodes on itself.

  3. firstSTREET on November 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    You bring up some excellent points here about baby boomers as well as “Generation XXL”. Hopefully we can instill better health and lifestyle habits in everyone so we don’t need to rely on healthcare as much. Diabetes and obesity, both preventable diseases, cost our country a huge amount of money every year. Thanks for sharing another informative post!

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