BABY BOOMERS: Will Demand More Of Health Plans
As the nation's baby boomers take on more health costs -- increasingly shifted to them by employers -- they will demand more accountability, coverage and flexibility from their health plans, according to a new study from the Institute for the Future. The study, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, notes that many baby boomers will have Internet proficiency, annual incomes above $50,000 and at least a year of college education, making them a "powerful" market force. Study Director Wendy Everett believes boomers' "skepticism" will fuel demand for provider report cards, and that the number of consumers with access to such data will rise from a current 10% to about 50% by 2010, with much of the information posted on the Internet. In addition, Everett predicts that health care providers will respond to boomer pressure to extend hours to nights and weekends, as have retailers. She thinks change will be "incremental" until the first baby boomers turn 65 in 2010, after which she predicts "a major consumer revolution." She said, "Pushy baby boomers are not willing to wait. If they don't get what they want, they're going to walk to another provider. ... The health plans that have figured out how to meet these consumers' wishes are going to be extremely successful" (Lite, AP/Los Angeles Times, 1/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.