Haley Sweetland Edwards writes in 'TIME Health' that one of the most crushing failures of the U.S. health system is that there’s no good way to pay for extended long-term care. Medicare doesn’t cover it. Private health plans don’t cover it. And for most, paying roughly $80,000 out of pocket, the average annual cost for a shared room at a skilled nursing facility, is simply out of the question.
Those in need of prolonged care face have to be either poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or rich enough to shoulder the cost alone. And, 47% of men and 58% of women who are retirement age or older will experience a need for long-term care in the future, according to a February 2016 study by the Department of Health and Human Services.
When Congress created Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, it was still common for people to die of acute medical issues, like heart attacks; now many survive those traumas and go on to live, with some assistance, for decades longer. In the 1960s, a large portion of families had access to stable, fixed pensions in retirement. Fixed pensions have all but disappeared. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans has no retirement savings at all.
Hospice care is seen as a potential profit centre by companies seeking government contracts while providing diminished service to those at the end of their lives. Medicaid, once intended to be a last-ditch safeguard for the poorest of the poor, is now the default payer for 61% of all nursing-home residents, according to a June 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation report.
Read full story here: http://time.com/5027076/dignity-death-and-americas-crisis-in-elder-care/