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As the youngest baby boomers turn 50 this year, the US healthcare industry is gearing up to meet unprecedented levels of demand for products and services. Though members of this generation still fancy themselves young and healthy, they have more health problems and chronic conditions than previous generations at the same age. Still, they want to stay active for as long as possible. They expect healthcare that enables them to age in place and do it on their own terms, according to a new eMarketer report, “Healthcare Marketing to Baby Boomers: Helping the ‘Forever Young’ Age on Their Own Terms.”
The US health industry is undergoing a large-scale, transformational shift away from treating illness and disease, toward rewarding wellness and prevention.
This newfound focus on self-care is helping marketers rack up big bucks. As more aging boomers focus on staying active and preserving their physical appearance and weight, they are fueling the markets for exercise as well as vitamins, dietary supplements, fortified foods and anti-aging products. In September 2013, market research firm BCC Research estimated that the global market for anti-aging products and services (including anti-aging cosmetics, plastic surgery and dermatology and anti-aging disease management) was $261.9 billion, up from $249.3 billion in 2012. The firm projected this number would reach $345.8 billion by 2018.
Healthcare reform efforts—including the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the 2010 Health Data Initiative (HDI)—are also aimed at rewarding positive outcomes, using connected technology and better data management to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
The majority of baby boomers were already covered by health insurance before the ACA’s first open enrollment period began. According to September 2013 figures from the National Center for Health Statistics, boomers had the highest insured rate of any adult age group not covered by Medicare.
Since open enrollment, the ranks of insured have swelled even further. Q2 2014 data from Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, collected after the first open enrollment ended, showed that the combined percentage of uninsured Gen X and baby boomers under age 65 had dropped several percentage points since late 2013. Only 13.4% of 35- to 64-year-olds were uninsured (down from 18.0% in Q4 2013).
Now that boomers are signed up, marketers are looking for ways to encourage them to take more responsibility for their own care and become comfortable with technology that will reduce long-term costs and keep them healthier. Digital advances, including electronic health records, mobile apps, video and wireless monitoring technology, allow for widespread adoption of digital care management.
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