No Longer Home Alone

Caring for the Elder in Their Home

By: Rickard Jean-Noel

Issue-Based Assessment #3

2019-0304 SWGS 6005 Contemporary Social Welfare Policy

According to the film “Care Workers, Their Clients, and a Coming Crisis” by filmmaker Deirdre Fishel, there is a growing issue in The United States that is often being overlooked. This issue is the care and treatment of the growing elderly population. People are now living for longer periods of time and there now must be a substantial level of care and resources to accommodate these people.  According to the film “Care Workers, Their Client, and a Coming Crisis”, “90% of Americans to want age at home. This had led to home care becoming “one of the fastest growing occupation in the country”. This is because of the decrease of the decrease of individuals and families caring for their elderly relatives. As the rate of physical, neurological, and mental illnesses increase among the elder, it becomes harder for them to care for themselves, which leads to them requiring a higher level of care, which is leading them to require the assistance of a care worker from part time to 24 four hours a day.

According to an article in U.S. New & World Report titled “10 Tips for Caring for Aging Parents, By Philip Moeller, “The number of people taking of care of an aging parent has soared in the past 15 years. MetLife estimates that nearly 10 million adult children over age 50 now care for an aging parent. In 1994, only 3 percent of men and 9 percent of women helped provide basic care for a parent. In 2008, 17 percent of men and 28 percent of women provided such care, which is defined as helping with dressing, feeding, bathing, and other personal care needs. This level of help goes well beyond grocery shopping, driving parents to appointments, and helping them with financial matters. And it’s more stressful as well”. The Article went on to say that “In taking the time to provide family care, MetLife said, working Americans lose an estimated $3 trillion in lifetime wages, with average losses of $324,044 for women and $283,716 for men”.

Because of the high level of care required for seniors, and those unable to assist themselves, we ae faced with the question of not only who will take care of these individuals but also who will pay for them. According to the official website for Medicaid (www.medicaid.gov), “Medicaid provides health coverage to 7.2 million low-income seniors who are also enrolled in Medicare. Medicaid also provides coverage to 4.8 million people with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare. In total, 12 million people are “dually eligible” and enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare, composing more than 15% of all Medicaid enrollees”. According to the site there are four basic forms of coverage which are:

  • Part A: Pays for hospitalization costs
  • Part B: Pays for physician services, lab and x-ray services, durable medical equipment, and outpatient and other services
  • Part C: Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) offered by private companies approved by Medicare
  • Part D: Assists with the cost of prescription drugs

According to the information above from www.medicaid.gov, the care received from care workers would be paid by Medicaid Part B. Those that do not have Medicaid would have to pay through private insurance or with their personal funds. Those that are unable to afford care or lack insurance will have to rely on their family members or go without. “Medicaid is commonly thought of as the program that provides health care for the poor. But it also pays for long-term care for a lot of older people, including the majority of nursing home residents” (“Obamacare Repeal Could Threaten Provisions That Help Older Adults” by Ina Jaffe 2017).

In the film “Care Worker, Their Clients, and a Coming Crisis”, we see where an immigrant care worker from Costa Rica named Vilma Rozen, who is working for an elder lady by the name of Dolores Bennett who is age 92. Ms. Bennett was a total dependent woman, but because of age and illness, she now requires 24-hour care, which consist of feeding her, bathing her, and other everyday tasks. The second care worker we see in the film is Laurie who is caring for an elderly man that has COPD and Emphysema by the name of Larry. According to the film Larry “only has 10 percent use of both his lungs” and “he’s been on a lung transplant list for five years and without a lung transplant he is going to die”. “Larry gets care from 8 in the morning to 12 midnight and if it was not for that then he would be in a nursing home and Larry does not want to be in a nursing home. Many people believe that individuals live longer receiving care from home then they would if they received care in a nursing home. This is mentioned in the film by one of Larry’s wife who stated that “he’s better off home where he gets to see his grandchildren and is happy here”.

According to the Article “The Affordable Care Act And Its Impact On The Aging” by Mounica Gummadi 2014, “A key demographic of people being affected by these changes is the rapidly growing aging population, estimated to compose 19% of the total U.S. population by the year 2030” (“Aging Statistics” Administration on Aging. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 19 July 2014). The Article goes on to state thatThis age group is also responsible for the highest level of spending—per capita medical costs are approximately three times greater for those who are aged 65 and above than for younger adults (“Managing the Quality of Health Care” 162). According to “Obamacare Repeal Could Threaten Provisions That Help Older Adults” by Ina Jaffe states that “Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies could charge people in their 50s and 60s many times more than they’d charge a younger person for the same policy. The affordable care act put a limit on that. Now Insurance companies can only charge older people three times as much as they charge people a few decades younger”.  The most positive thing about the ACA/Obama Care is that it is “Requiring guaranteed issue and renewability of health insurance regardless of health status and allowing rating variation based only on age (limited to a 3 to 1 ratio), geographic area, family composition and tobacco use. This applies to the individual, small group market and the health insurance exchanges” (“How the Affordable Care Act Helps Seniors 2016, Medicare Policy Papers, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare).

According to the film “Care Workers, Their Clients, and a Coming Crisis” by Deirdre Fishel, majority of the home care workers do not make enough to support themselves. Majority of the workers make on average of $300 a week and about $13,000 a year. In the film, there was a story about a woman named Delores who is currently homeless and living in a shelter. The film details that “the fact that the fastest growing workforce in the country earns poverty wages is a huge problem. The conditions of work are so harsh, it’s the wild west. But it’s not only the wild west for workers, where there are no guideline, training, or support, but also for families looking for the support they need. This system is not working for anyone” (“Care Workers, Their Clients, and a Coming Crisis” by Deirdre Fishel).

In conclusion, care workers play a major role in todays society. Unfortunately, they are often not treated so and highly underpaid. Those in need of the home health workers often are unable to afford the care needed and their family members go into debt caring for treatment when they are unable to afford insurance. Those that are unable to afford the care often go without and eventually die. The system overall is broken and needs to be addressed. As the film details, we are highly unprepared for the growing influx of elderly.

 

List of References Used:

  1. “Care Workers, Their Clients, and a Coming Crisis” by filmmaker Deirdre Fishel
  2. S. New & World Report titled “10 Tips for Caring for Aging Parents, By Philip Moeller
  3. medicaid.gov
  4. (“Obamacare Repeal Could Threaten Provisions That Help Older Adults” by Ina Jaffe 2017).
  5. “The Affordable Care Act and Its Impact on The Aging” by Mounica Gummadi 2014
  6. “Aging Statistics” Administration on Aging. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 19 July 2014
  7. “Managing the Quality of Health Care” 162
  8. “Obamacare Repeal Could Threaten Provisions That Help Older Adults” by Ina Jaffe
  9. “How the Affordable Care Act Helps Seniors 2016, Medicare Policy Papers, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare).

 

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