South Korea struggles with healthcare needs of elderly

South Korea has a wealth of statistics about the near future of healthcare needs in the country, but no apparent solutions for how to deal with an elderly population about to drain its coffers.

The problem is the same as in most other countries: the eldest of the baby boomer generation of nearly 7 million is about to reach 65 years of age and needing more healthcare. Even before reaching that age, healthcare costs for that generation increased by 31% over the past four years.

A Ministry of Health and Welfare official told the Korea Herald that during the same period of the boomer cost increase, the costs for nation's population of 65 to 74 increased by 20.3%, accounting for a third of the nation's overall medical costs of $18 billion.

Then there is the population of 75 and older, whose costs grew by 79% during the 2010-2014 period. Most of their costs were for treating dementia and Parkinson's disease, the cost for the former increasing by more than 138%, the latter 204.5%.

One expert cited said the boomers already are caring for their parents 75 or older and now face their own skyrocketing healthcare needs, "but we don't know who is going to pay for it."

Another suggested the government develop preventative measures to tackle age-related diseases such as dementia. He said the government cannot stop the boomers from getting older, but it can do something to about preventing some of their diseases.

- here's the story from the Korea Herald