By Bob Semro, Health Policy Analyst at The Bell Policy Center

Colorado is facing a demographic and long term care crisis that may directly affect more than a million of our fellow citizens. 

Let’s start with some statistics about Baby Boomers.  Did you know that…..?

  1. There are more than 1,340,000 “Baby Boomers” in Colorado and they represented about 37 percent of the labor force in Colorado in 2010
  2. Approximately 1,000,000 workers will be aging out of the work force over the next 20 years, effectively ending Colorado’s “Demographic Dividend” to state and local government tax revenues.
  3. According to the Volunteers of America’s “Boomer Bust 2011, Still Unaware and Unprepared” study in April 2011
  4. 27 percent of the workers surveyed reported that they have less than $1,000 in savings
  5. More than half of the workers surveyed have less than $25,000 in savings if you exclude the value of their primary home and pre-defined benefits plans. 
  6. 54 percent of those workers surveyed reported that they have not calculated how much money they need to save for retirement


How about some statistics on Seniors? 

  1. Colorado’s 65+ population will increase by 123 percent between 2010 and 2030
  2. By 2030, 18.5 percent of the state’s population (1,243,000 people) will be over 65.
  3. According to the “From Bad to Worse” policy brief from July 2011 by Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy:
  4. The number of seniors at risk of outliving their resources  in the United States increased by nearly 2 million households between 2004 and 2008.
  5. More than 1 out of every 3 seniors in the U.S. is economically insecure today and almost 50 percent of all senior households of color and single women households are economically insecure.


How about Long Term Care? 

  1. At some point in their lives between 70 and 75 percent of individuals over 65 will require some form of long term care. 
  2. The average time span for long term care is 3 years
  3. The average cost of a single occupancy room in an Assisted Living Facility in Colorado is $108 dollars a day or $39,450 per year.
  4. The average cost of a semi private room in Nursing Home in Colorado is $202 dollars a day or $73,730 per year. 
  5. Medicare doesn’t pay for long term care only Medicaid does.


The state’s Medicaid budget, which funds the only long term care safety net for middle and lower income Coloradans, is expected to triple by 2025 from $1.8 billion to $5.5 billion.  There are no quick or cheap solutions to solve that problem.  What we do know is that our population is aging in an unprecedented way, the baby boomers are leaving the workforce, and many of them are financially unprepared for retirement let alone long term care.  Government doesn’t have a game plan for addressing the problem and the legislature is prevented from raising the revenue that will be needed to keep a strong safety net in place.  This is an issue of both individual and governmental responsibility.  The longer we wait to deal with both sides of this problem the more unsatisfactory the solution will be.

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