Health care for old age

  • Article by: KATHRYN ROBERTS
  • Updated: August 5, 2012 - 8:06 PM

Many of us will spend away our life savings on essential services for our Alzheimer's and other chronic illnesses

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martiankingAug. 5, 1210:48 PM

My sister and I have had to come to grips with the reality that many others before us have had to deal with. Our mother suffered a stroke and was an invalid from that time to her death a few months later. Our father had to use a lot of their life savings to cover the costs not covered by Medicare. They were under the assumption, incorrectly, that the government insurance would cover the costs so they would not have to worry about finances. We soon found out that our father, who now lives in an assisted living facility, would have to pay for most everything until he was destitute that the government would help pay for his care. Even then, the government would take his home, which is not worth much at all, to pay for his care. He grew up in a time when the home was passed on to the children to live in or sell, so the loss of his home was devastating to him. Why we can't solve this by having total health care coverage for those on Social Security is beyond me. My sister and me are getting to be of the opinion that the way things are going, most of us in this country will eventually lose our homes for health care, and wind up in a county run home unless we change the attitudes of those in charge that this is not the way this country should be for future generations. With the way it looks concerning the direction health care is paid for, and the fact most of us will not have enough in savings to cover any long term care, we need to revamp our health system now.

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crystalbayAug. 5, 1211:35 PM

Martianking: Medicare is supposed to be supplemented with private insurance - I'm 68 and don't know anyone my age who doesn't purchase it. It only costs between $90 and $119/month. Two years ago, I had a serious cancer - chemo/radiation, a nine-hour surgery at Mayo, months in the hospital, etc. Every bit of it was covered between Medicare & my supplemental plan. Better yet, private insurance cannot deny anyone over 65 due to preexisting. Of course, assisted living wouldn't be covered, but if medical bills are an issue for your dad, buy supplemental insurance for him.

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sinnigAug. 6, 12 7:04 AM

@crystalbay: the problem is that neither supplemental health insurance or Medicare will pay for a long-term stay in a nursing home. If your health is such that you can't live independently, you either need long-term care insurance (which is expensive and out of reach for most) or you need to spend down your assets until you qualify for Medicaid.

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alansonAug. 6, 1210:31 AM

For most people outside of the 1% it simply does not make economic sense to prepare for the worst case scenario in old age. People expect, with reason, to be provided the Medicaid safety net when they exhaust their personal resources. So it makes sense to spend money while it can be enjoyed, and let the taxpayers foot the bill for the nursing home. That's the way incentives are structured today. And the oldsters' children will quietly step back and let the government handle it. The fact that this might break the government at some point in the future is a theoretical concern to some, but not when it comes to making personal decisions. For end of life support we're basically on single payer already - I suppose the "Progressives" ought to be delighted by this outcome.

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banditoneAug. 6, 1212:43 PM

There are 3 other pieces of irrationality to this discussion. First, the denial that we are aging. For those of us who are younger or older but able bodied and minded? We act as if it will never happen to me, when, in fact, it is happening to ALL of us. Secondly, What is this insane drive to leave it all to our children? Why do we feel compelled to leave some large amount of money and assets to our kids? How about we pay for retirement, however that comes to play. Our companies with defined benefit plans, and now, our country with tax preferred savings plans, did not provide these so that we can leave them to our children. No, we have retirement plans to help us pay for our expenses, whatever they end up being. We should address all the expensive estate planners that are helping people transfer their assets to their children. Maybe we should tax their fees when they assist individuals doing this. Lastly, how about if we take care of our health? We continue to eat like there is no tomorrow, we say, "tomorrow" we'll exercise. Did you know that leg strength is the single biggest predicter of whether one will be institutionalized?

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ZombiehunterAug. 6, 12 4:23 PM

Banditone, no matter how well you exercise there will still come the point when you're no longer able to move around? What then? Is the person then obligated to roll over and die?

Sure, it would be nice if people took better care of themselves. But even if they do we're all going to need health care at some point.

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