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How can nations help fund the care of their growing number of elderly citizens?
The UK is addressing the issue with the publishing of the ‘Caring for our future: reforming care and support’ White Paper, but implementation is slow.
The Paper comes less than a fortnight after the ruling of the American Supreme Court to uphold Obama’s Affordable Care Act – part of which covers the controversial legislation which will see compulsory health insurance for US citizens in an effort to tackle health care funding issues.
In the UK, with the National Health Service already funding routine medical costs, focus has turned to the cost of private care for the country’s elderly.
The current figure of 3 million people over the age of 80 is expected to double in the next twenty years as ‘baby boomers’ begin to reach pensionable age.
The cost of care for Britain’s elderly is currently estimated at £15 billion, a figure set to reach as much as £23 billion as the population of over-80s continues to increase.
Elder Care Reforms: Why are They Necessary?
There have long been concerns surrounding the affordability of care for the elderly, with many historically having to sell their homes and spend future generations’ inheritance in order to fund private care homes and medical costs. With an average person typically living longer, the cost of care for each individual is set to soar, surpassing the amounts planned for in previous generations.
In Britain, the NHS does not guarantee care in an individual’s later years. State-funded care for the elderly relies on a means-testing system, which determines whether or not one is financially responsible for their own care. The threshold has not yet been raised in response to the aging of the population and inflation – currently, it is set at £25,250, which is lower than the average salary.
Scotland has broken from this system, and already offers free care for the elderly – a scheme which came into effect ten years ago, but will possibly also need to be reconsidered as the costs involved will inevitably become unsustainable.
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