Future Plans for Covering Long-Term Health Care of the Elderly
In 2013, there are more than 10.8 million UK citizens over the age of 65. The Wiki site lists the UK population for 2013 at 63.8 million. Thus, 1 out of 6 UK citizens are elderly. The United Kingdom realizes that it must modify its present-day health care system to cope with the future long-term needs of the population.
During times of economic growth, it is easier to pay for the health care of the elderly. Unfortunately, the Credit Crunch of 2008 has continued to linger and place tremendous financial pressures on all of the citizens of the United Kingdom. This has led to a debate over the best options for paying for elderly care in UK.
Pivotal elements of this debate include the present state of elderly care in the UK with the NHS. What can be improved? How are other nations handling health care for their senior citizens? And in the end, who should pay for the health care needs of older people?
Selling Homes to Pay for Health Care
In the United Kingdom and the United States, the first line of funding for elderly health care is from the assets of the individuals. The Telegraph reported on September 3, 2013 that two million elderly are planning to sell their homes to pay for health care.
The UK prevents any financial support for health care if individuals have more than £23,500 in assets. Elderly health care ranges from about £28,000 to £40,000 per year, which can quickly deplete the assets of an individual. The UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is working with the Dilnot Commission to increase the cap on assets to make it so elderly people won’t need to sell their homes to pay for health care.
The present health care situation “steals from Peter to pay Paul.” When senior citizens must choose between housing and health care, they are relinquishing a basic necessity of life. Furthermore, when parents sell their family home, their children lose a portion of their inheritance.
Health Care for the Public Good
Traditionally, paying for health care has been the duty of families or charitable organizations. In small villages, doctors might accept chickens or crops as payment. An element of medicine is “to care for the well-being of the population.”
Governments understand that the health of their population is part of the public good. If diseases spread, all suffer. Thus, a portion of health care must always be paid from public coffers. The real question is – “What percentage of health care should be paid for by the government, charities, businesses and individuals?”