"Annual Physician Office Visits by Age Group"
One of the main drivers of tenant demand for medical office buildings and other healthcare properties has been the aging of the baby boom generation. As people grow older, they visit their primary care physicians more often as illustrated in the adjacent graph. In 2008, the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average number of physician visits ranged from a low of 1.8 for persons aged 15 to 24 to a high of 7.4 for persons aged 75 and up. Not only do older people visit their doctors more often, the frequency of visits has been rising over time for this group. Between 1989 and 2008, the average number of annual visits increased from 3.1 to 3.7 for persons aged 45 to 64, from 4.7 to 6.4 for persons aged 65 to 74, and from 5.9 to 7.4 for the 75+ group. The frequency of visits was fairly flat for younger age groups during this period. The trend toward increasing physician visits has much to do with advancements in medical care. Diseases that were fatal are now treatable while conditions that were debilitating or merely annoying can be alleviated. Moreover, there has been a growing cultural bias toward seeking medical care, particularly since the Food and Drug Administration loosened the rules governing pharmaceutical advertising in 1997. These trends are likely to keep the rate of physician visits growing no matter the outcome of the debate over funding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.