Medicare Population Growing at a Rate Far Exceeding the General Population

According to Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) data*, the population of Americans 65 years of age and older will continue to grow significantly in coming years.

There were about 40.2 Americans 65 and over in 2010. That number grew to 41.1 million in 2011, 42.4 million in 2012, and is currently at about 43.8 million.
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CMS projections over the next several years indicate the 65-and-over population in the United States will rise to:

  • 45.1 million in 2014
  • 46.5 million in 2015
  • 47.9 million in 2016

From there, the increase is projected to continue annually for the foreseeable future, with CMS figures projecting the 65-and-over population to reach 54.2 million by 2020.

Looking at the decade from 2010 to 2020, these figures translate to an average annual increase of 1.44 million Americans aged 65 and over.

During that same decade, CMS figures project the general population of the United States to grow at a rate of 2.84 million people per year.

This means the number of people entering their Medicare eligibility years will equal more than half of the increase in the US population–which may not sound like much until you consider that Americans 65 and over account for only about one-seventh of the general population.

How does this relate to the Medicare population?

While a growing percentage of the Medicare population consists of disabled Americans, US census figures show that percentage has leveled off to about 17 percent in recent years. Of the approximately 50 million Americans currently on Medicare, about 83 percent are Americans 65 and over.

With Medicare recipients accounting for about 16 percent of the general US population, it is obvious at a glance that nearly all Americans 65 and over are enrolled in Medicare. That pattern is all but certain to continue as far as all those Americans soon to join the 65-and-older demographic are concerned.

This means we can expect an increase of about 5 million Americans on Medicare rolls between now and 2016. That’s a 10 percent increase in three years.

This could mean …

  • A lot more talk about raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 … or even older
  • Further strain on the Medicare system due to a smaller number of workers per Medicare beneficiary
  • More people 65 and over staying in the workforce to help cover the shortfall

The bright side is that Medicare remains a national priority, and the program seems in little danger for the foreseeable future. Given concerns about Medicare spending and Medicare coverage limits, however, it seems more advisable than ever for the growing Medicare-eligible population to give serious thought to investing in Medicare supplement insurance, which is designed to fill the gaps in Medicare coverage.

Americans are living longer than ever, and too many people all across the country are learning the hard way that Original Medicare alone is insufficient for their healthcare needs.

What changes do you foresee as a result of the continued increase in the Medicare population? Please leave a comment!

© 2013

* – National Health Expenditure Projections 2010 – 2020


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