2008 Edition — Beds for Boomers

Will hospitals have enough?

Jen Joynt, Independent Health Care Consultant


California, like the rest of the nation, is anticipating unprecedented growth in the 65+ population. This will have a significant impact on the state’s acute care hospitals, since seniors are hospitalized at much higher rates than younger people. The California Health Care Foundation sponsored research to help hospitals and other health care stakeholders assess the impact of the aging population on the need for beds.

Key findings include:

  • California’s 65+ population is projected to more than double from 2000 to 2030, growing to 8.8 million.
  • Due to seniors’ high rate of hospitalization, acute care hospital days are projected to increase by 76% over that period. By 2030, the 65+ group is projected to use over half of the state’s acute care days, despite representing only 18% of the population.
  • California’s regions differ widely in senior population growth, use of acute care days, and licensed bed capacity.1 An analysis of seven regions projects that by 2030 there will be insufficient acute care beds in four regions.
  • As early as 2020, the Sacramento Area, San Joaquin Valley, and Inland Empire may experience a shortfall in beds.

As California’s hospitals plan upgrades to meet earthquake safety requirements, they will need to consider the impact that the growth of the older population in their region will have on the need for acute care beds. Efficiency of hospital care will be a crucial factor in meeting demand without unnecessarily increasing supply.

The full report, available for download below, is part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape. See our entire collection of current and past editions of Beds for Boomers.


  1. The calculations in this report were based on licensed acute care beds because these data are the most consistently defined and reported measure of hospital beds.