Medicaid is a crucial program for millions of people. But not everyone understands who’s eligible and the benefits; moreover, the program continues to evolve. Here’s what you and all consumers should know.
If you have protection against future catastrophic out-of-pocket costs for basic life functions, consider yourself lucky. The vast majority of people in the United States don’t.
Medicaid is the country’s largest public health insurance program, providing access to needed health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS) to millions of low-income Americans, including more than 17 million children with disabilities, adults with disabilities, and poor seniors.
My almost 96-year-old mother is one of about half of older adults with disabilities serious enough to need long-term services and supports. She is nearly blind, has dementia and osteoporosis, and suffers from arthritis. Recently she’s begun to experience back pain too. She lived in her home of over 50 years until it was damaged during Hurricane Sandy. For the past four years she has been living in an assisted living facility in New Jersey, in the community she prefers. Here’s a little of what the experience of my mother — and my family — reveals about the cost of care for older adults with health and self-care needs.
While family caregiving is an intensely personal issue, it is critically important to the well-being of our aging U.S. population, families and society — and must be taken seriously as a critical issue of public policy.
“Marvin L. Dawkins was a 53-year-old AT&T manager when a blocked blood vessel left him paralyzed. It took 11 years, one lawsuit, repeated tangles over Medicaid rules — and a chance meeting on a church van — before he could extract himself from a nursing home outside Baltimore. Now he lives in an apartment with the assistance of an aide, gets out for a job that he says gives him purpose, socializes with new friends and old ones, and revels in his freedom.” — New York Times
Life spans are increasing around the world, but countries differ enormously in how they deal with increasing demands for long-term services and supports (LTSS). AARP International recently sponsored a policy symposium on the LTSS systems in Germany, France and the United Kingdom to inform important discussions about how to reform the U.S. system.
Imagine that you have been named CEO of an underperforming major corporation. Your competitors outperform your company on some measures by ratios of 3 or 4 to 1. Consumers prefer the products of your competitors by similar lopsided margins. Your operating costs are lower than most, but your equipment and management processes are antiquated and result in unnecessary inefficiencies and poor quality products. What would you do?
When I became a caregiver for my dad's parents, Grandmother Genevieve had dementia and Granddaddy C.V., 10 years her senior, was struggling to care for her. I remember realizing they were getting by on a meager breakfast at home and a single meal at a cafeteria. Getting Grandmother into the car and Granddaddy driving her to the cafeteria were becoming scary, so I contacted the local Area Agency on Aging and arranged for delivery of Meals on Wheels to their home.
Caring for a loved one with chronic or disabling conditions is a daily struggle for millions of American families. For decades, these intensely personal and family needs have generally been viewed as private issues and largely overlooked in public policy, although it would cost an estimated $450 billion to replace that care.
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