According to the most recent United States Census information, 14 percent of the current population is aged 65 or older. By the year 2030, that number will increase to 18 percent. With so many Baby Boomers aging into the 65+ category, America is now aging more rapidly than ever before. And the biggest concern for most of them is the cost and quality of healthcare they are receiving. Health care costs for seniors are now the most expensive they’ve ever been.
A new study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that Americans over the age of 65 are “more likely to have chronic illnesses and to say they struggle to afford health care, despite qualifying for the federal Medicare program.” The study, which was published in the November issue of medical journal Health Affairs, looked at the issue of aging from an international perspective. By interviewing participants across the globe—including Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and other nations along with the United States—researchers found that older adults here in America were “sicker than their counterparts abroad.”
A whopping 87 percent of U.S. respondents reported having one chronic condition that required medical attention, and sadly, 19 percent of them acknowledged cost as being a major obstacle in receiving health care for that condition.
Traditional Medicare coverage will still leave you with out-of-pocket costs that can average out to roughly $4,000 each year, which is a much higher cost than many other industrialized nations. One of the study’s authors and Executive Vice President for the Commonwealth Fund, Donald Moulds, said that here in the U.S. that out-of-pocket cost ends up being a “high percentage of a lot of people’s incomes. There is certainly a hope that the Affordable Care Act will be helpful in remedying that phenomenon over time.”
The study also found that beyond senior health care costs, Americans also have trouble finding high quality care due to subpar coordination between caregivers and physicians, along with the challenge of finding after-hours care.
What most people may not realize, however, is how in-home care can help keep overall health costs down over time. Some in-home services that can reduce your senior health costs include:
- Non-Medical In-Home Care. Many people may panic as they age, fearing an eventual move into an assisted living facility or a nursing home, both of which can be very expensive. Luckily, services like the kind that Griswold Home Care provides can help to off-set many of these costs and allow people to remain in their own homes as they age.
- Health Services for the Home. Who says that medical professionals can’t make house calls anymore? There are services that will send Registered Nurses to your home to provide you with a wide range of care. This could be especially helpful to those who don’t have access to transportation.
- Medical Alert Systems. A medical alert system enables you to have access to emergency help at the push of a wearable button. Medical Guardian, for example, offers a wide range of products and pricing to satisfy every budget and lifestyle. And thanks to upgrades in modern technology, there is even a product with automatic fall detection. It can sense when a fall is occurring and automatically trigger a call for help, even if you have fallen unconscious or are unable to press the button yourself.
It’s helpful to consider all of your options, especially if you suffer from chronic conditions, before writing off health care because of the price tag. Being proactive about your health in the present, will help you live longer—and save money—in the future.
Hilary Young is the Communications Manager for Medical Guardian. She helps to keep baby boomers and their loved ones educated about their health and wellbeing. She is also a regular contributor to the Medical Guardian Blog, the Huffington Post, and BlogHer.com.