Ms. Jane Gross wrote an excellent article for the New York Times on October 15th. Ms. Gross hits on some very real and concerning topics dealing with Medicare today. There are many uninformed consumers that don’t understand how Medicare works and that it will not pay for most of your long term needs.
Ms. Gross points out how Medicare willingly paid a very large sum of money for neurosurgery on her elderly mother, yet, failed to provide the real and much needed benefits of Home Health Aides and extra care in the facility. Many seniors will begin to suffer some failure in their Daily Activities of Living which will put them at an increased risk of injury or illness resulting in a hospital stay. It seems for most of us Medicare is simply providing a reactive benefit to our elderly.
Where is the preventive help for day to day life? There is no doubt the advances in modern medicine have greatly increased the quality of our lives as we age but why is there no help for basic daily needs? With nursing homes and hospital stays easily cresting 6 figures a year in cost, why are we not doing more to prevent this and doing the small things to keep our loved ones at home?
Ms. Gross points out that, “Nationwide, the median annual cost of a nursing home in 2010 was $75,000; room and board in an assisted living facility, with no additional help, was $37,500; and the most basic category of home health aide, who can perform no medical tasks, like the dispensing of medication, was $19 an hour. These expenses are left to the elderly (and their adult children) to pay for out of pocket until their pockets are all but empty”.
These home health aides or Caregivers can provide an immeasurable benefit, especially at rates around $20 an hour in the Denver area. We are often left with huge nursing home bills because families didn’t take the small steps in the short term to help prevent such events that lead to hospital stays, rehabs and eventually a nursing home. A simple daily visit from a home health aide can help prevent such events, lower costs, and keep loved ones in their homes. Don’t you think it’s time Medicare addressed this issue? Don’t you think it’s time we looked at the costs and benefits of avoiding costly medical procedures?