Sun Nov 18th, 2007 at 05:05:29 PM EST
retired US ambassador with no health care:
Quickly we switched over to Medicaid, which would pick up roughly fifty percent of the cost of the 24 hour care, and breathed deeply with prayers, hoping this would somehow work. The monthly cost for caring for him is around $12,000, so we wound up having to pay roughly $6,000 a month. Now a year has passed, and dear dad is still fighting for life, breathing, eating, and seeing his family every day, though his condition continues to worsen.
But we cannot afford to keep paying for the care.
Requiem for the American Dream — Diary Rescue by Migeru
It has finally come to this. And we are on the verge of having to sell the family house, the only thing of value we have left. Now, it's easy to think that we're rich -- and there are certainly millions of people out there in the United States who have it worse than we do -- but we certainly are not rich, in any way, shape, or form. We once had security, in the house and in investments. But it has all dwindled away because of the escalating prices of everything these days, including health care. We are not rich. We have next to nothing. And now we are being forced to make the extremely difficult decision to sell our house in order to take care of dear Dad.
We all know what's happening to the economy in this country. To sell property at this time is akin to economic suicide. Clearly we are on the verge of a depression, no matter what our corporate media tell us. And our family finds itself in the position in which so many wonderful Americans find themselves: having to sell out to the system in order to stay alive. I have investigated alternatives, contacted various governmental associations, sought out any avenue I could find, to help us. Heck, I've even considered contacting Henry Kissinger, with whom my father once worked. But we all know about Henry, don't we? Who the hell would want to shake hands with a world renown war criminal, one of the chief architects of our demise in this country, just to get some financial assistance for a slowly dying true hero? We sure don't. We would rather waste away than go there. After all, we still have integrity, while Henry can't even travel to most places in the world for fear of being arrested. We will have to sell the house.
Whether or not we accept the writer's asssment of his Dad as a True Hero (with all the jingoistic US#1 framing not quoted here), every American with aged parents shivers in unease and fear at stories like this. Increasingly, long-lived parents do not leave an estate to their kids: they are more likely to leave debts incurred for long term care. And the quality of many "elder care facilities" rivals VA hospitals for Hogarthian horror. If children or grandchildren do not closely monitor the situation, "warehoused" elders are all too often drugged into docility and left without human interaction for hours or days at a time.
The med/pharma developments that have made it possible to keep extremely aged people alive -- if less than functional -- for 2 decades longer than was normal 2 generations ago, are having all kinds of knockon effects. It places old people and their families in an invidious position: gramps or gramma is painfully conscious (if conscious of much at all) of being a burden and a financial risk to the family, while the family lives in fear of being bankrupted by long term elder care... and yet the existence of the technology means that allowing an elderly person to "slip away" by eschewing the intense life support offered by the med mafia feels like murder. And who, other than systematically abused children, wants their parents dead? If there is any option to keep Mom or Dad alive and provide 24x7 care to compensate for intensifying disability or dementia, filial duty and natural affection demand it. (More than 50 pct of US health care dollars are spent on extending the last 6 months of life, or so I have read. This figure is probably skewed by emergency medicine for trauma victims, but it's still an indicator.)
Unintended consequences galore... no easy way out, other than -- what? an organised movement of the aged to boycott such services and move to Oregon? And even I cannot honestly say that, at the age of 89, I would have the Illichian courage of my convictions to that extent. Here is technology as an ethical trap of exquisite cruelty, and a captive market of the most vulnerable kind being squeezed for all they are worth -- literally -- by finance capital.
"This is a quantum leap in service integration in the area of elder care, and it's a synergy that couldn't have been better orchestrated," said LifeCare's James Weil, one of the nation's principal authorities on issues of business and aging.
Approximately one-third of LifeCare covered employees are facing adult caregiving issues -- a figure that Weil says will continue to increase over time as the life expectancy of our population increases. According to Weil, over the next two years, it is estimated that more than 40% of the workforce will be caring for aging loved ones.
You can almost hear them licking their lips:
"The private market," says Cohen, "has tremendous potential for financing long-term care. But", he continues, "many falsely believe that health insurance or Medicare will cover long-term care expenses(5)".
Cohen and others have proposed incentives to encourage the purchase of private long-term care insurance. These include allowing a tax deduction for long-term care premiums, as well as allowing states to exempt a person's primary residence from Medicaid liens if the owner has purchased an approved long-term care policy(6).