As we age, health insurance becomes more and more expensive. Our bodies start to wear out and will require more care to keep us going. In order to provide for those in their golden years, Medicare is around so people do not have quite as many bills and can enjoy their retirement. While currently Medicare is designed to be like health insurance, a new proposal that just went through will have it start to cover chronic conditions and certain disabilities.
Under the old Medicare system, certain treatments would be denied because there was “little likelihood for improvement.” This is not to say the patient would not be treated for their symptoms, but rather Medicare would not cover the costs of ongoing treatment in the form of care giving. It has long been known that medical insurance does not cover this. In-home care, assisted living, and nursing facilities are mostly separate from medical treatment facilities and require long term care insurance (Medicaid will provide some long term care benefits). Medicare, like other medical insurances, treats the symptoms and does not cover the cost of care.
With the new healthcare laws, however, there are some new rules with Medicare. A new provision will now require the coverage to “maintain the patient’s current condition or to prevent or slow further deterioration.” So rather than following the old guidelines of “Will this person get better?” the new guidelines will focus more on “Will this person’s quality of life get better?” There is no reason that a person should have to suffer alone just because they have a chronic illness or disability. The downside is that the program will now be spending a lot more money on the cost of ongoing care for some patients. How much it will actually end up costing is yet to be determined.
Whether you agree with the new healthcare laws or not, the fact is they will drastically change the way Americans get healthcare and how their care is received. There will be added costs to the program, but there is no real way to determine how that is going to affect the general public. The fact is, that those who need ongoing care have been marginalized, and now they will be given better access to what they need. Their quality of life will improve, and as much as this is a benefit to the individual needing care, it is also a benefit to the heirs. Some of the stress of caring for a loved one is lifted, and the focus can be at maintaining the relationship, not the bank account.