So I haven’t ever written or researched anything about healthcare, so this little rant/question is really from a sample set of one experience relayed to me by someone. But I ask you to read along, and as you hear the story, think about your own threshhold of pain. At what point, honestly, would you have given in?
I was at a nursing home and met a nice guy named Will. Will was in his late 50′s, there visiting his mom, who is a patient/resident. He shared his experience with me.
Years ago, Will had worked as an internal affairs officer for a branch of the U.S. governement. His mother developed a degenerative back issue that placed her in a wheel chair and made her unable to walk. Will’s mother was a U.S. Navy vet herself and a widow, so she had some pension, medical benefits and inheritance to help defray the costs of medical care, and he placed her in a nice nursing home.
The home was great, but she slowly became more and more agitated. She was beginning to lose her sight in one eye, and her hearing. So after a year or so, they decided to bring her to Will’s home, where he lived with his daughter and wife.
Will’s mother’s eyesight and hearing continued to diminish, and in turn she became more agitated and cranky at his wife and daughter. Whenever they left her alone, she would end up in some predicament in the house. It got to the point that they simply couldn’t leave her alone. This of course caused considerable strain on the whole family, and Will developed his own illness. Plus, she started needing round the clock care.
So, they eventually placed her back in the nursing home so she could get round the clock care. Will had saved up more than half a million dollars from working for 30+ years for the government and retired with his pension so he could battle his own illness.
Now, 5+ years after moving her back in the nursing home, and more than 8 years since Day One, Will is just about flat broke. Supplementing the rest of his mom’s care from his own pocketbook has dwindled his family’s entire life’s saving. He has gone back to work, training to be a personal tax accountant for friends and family. His mom continues to be happy and boisterous, with nary a medical ailment other than her inability to walk, or see or hear well. Internally, she’s fine.
According to what our Privatized health care system asks for, Will and his mom have done everything right. She was in the armed forces for 8 years and receives some government sponsored pension. She used her husband’s life insurance and assets for her own care.Will worked until being offered retirement. He raised his kids and shipped them off to college. They both had health care. They utilized Medicare. They both saved for their own retirement.
And yet Will’s mom is outliving his money. His next step is to sell his house and move into an apartment to pay a couple of more years of her care. But then what?
I don’t have any answers when it comes to health care. And it’s easy to say, "Well people should just plan accordingly." But this is a tale of planning accordingly and still being failed by the system they planned within. If this situation can happen to a family of patriotic, college educated government employees, how does someone else deal with it?
++ Some of my own notes:
* This makes me very scared about people who want to throw high tax rates on a "death tax." If another spouse is surviving, why do we need to take away the money that family has saved, instead of letting the spouse use it for his/her own care?
* Should the hippocratic oath start taking quality of life into consideration? Imagine you were 80, wheelchair bound, unable to see or hear, and spent all day simply sitting in a chair looking in the hallway, waiting for your 2:30 bingo game. And by doing that, your grandaughter doesn’t get to go to college, or your son has to sell his house. How is your outlook on life?
* Why can’t we raise the retirement age? If we’re living longer, don’t we need to be working longer? If we’re living until 80, and don’t work until 21, we need more than 44 out of 80 people to be in the job force in order to sustain a standard of living. Can we really afford for every working person to be supporting them plus another non-worker?
Looking forward to your thoughts on this.