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Carroll School of Management

Larry J. Merlo

President and Chief Executive Officer
CVS Caremark

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston 

June 5, 2012

TAKEAWAY: Silver Tsunami

So the first number is 10,000. That’s the number of baby boomers becoming eligible for Medicare every day—often referred to as the Silver Tsunami. Now not only does this mean over 16 million new Medicare eligibles by 2019, it also means a long-term increase in demand for services and the use of medications. Because on average, seniors take 13 prescribed drugs—that’s three times the number of the younger population.

The second number is 32 million. This is the number of newly insured people as a result of national health care reform, and many of them are going to need help navigating the health care system. Our research shows that 59 percent of people say that health care is just too complicated, and health insurance exchanges are just going to further increase the level of confusion.

The third number, 45,000—that’s the projected shortage of primary care physicians by the end of this decade. This shortage will have a profound effect on both cost and quality of care, in the context of the increased demand that’s created by the first two numbers that we just talked about.

And the fourth number: 20 percent. It’s the percentage of our gross domestic product that will go towards health care by 2020. That means going from about $2.6 trillion only a few years ago, back in 2010, to more than $4.6 trillion 10 years later. And according to a 2008 World Health Organization study, we spend more per person on health care than any other country in the world.