OPINION: US Health Care System Leaves Senior Citizens Suffering


Seniors in America have it tough. Instead of granting COLA (cost of living adjustments), the Republican-controlled Congress has been hard at work finding ways to slash Social Security and Medicare, the two programs which provide the majority of income and medical coverage to millions of retired Americans.

Just this past June, House Republicans released a proposal that claimed it would balance the budget in nine years. A worthy goal indeed, were it not being proposed that we attain it by making large cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare, which President Trump once vowed not to touch.

Although many of the Trump administration’s ideas have not come to fruition throughout the course of the tumultuous presidency, it’s worth noting that the proposed budget serves as an expression of this administration’s willingness to turn it’s back on those it once vowed so vehemently to protect.

And to make matters worse, at a time when many look forward to seeing even their meager living stipend slashed further, many Americans are woefully unprepared to finance the long-term care that would enable them to enjoy the greatest quality of life during their golden years.

Whether it is suddenly discovering that Medicare no longer covers a specialty medication that has given them a new lease on life to the prospect of living out one’s final days in an institution instead of in the homes they love, many American seniors face a grim medical future.

There is hope, of course. But that hope will only become a reality when enough Americans insist upon the implementation of a better health care model in our nation. Until then, many of America’s seniors will continue to suffer, paying more and more money for a greatly decreased quality of life.

Issues with Medicare

While Medicare has many advantages, the fact remains that it is inadequate when it comes to covering many seniors’ specific health needs.

The first area where many seniors hit trouble is when they go to pick up their prescriptions. Medicare will not pay for prescription drugs that a senior takes at home; they will only cover the cost of prescriptions given in a hospital.

Many seniors do choose to opt into a Medicare Part D plan, which is specifically designed to offer senior coverage. However, these plans need to be carefully evaluated, as they are inconsistent about which medications they will in fact cover. Many times, newer, more expensive drugs like biologics, are not even covered under Part D.

The Number of Seniors Who Need Long-Term Care

What is even more troubling about the gaps in Medicare coverage is the fact that the plan will not pay for any long-term care, only a handful of medically necessary days in the hospital post-surgery. And lack of long-term care coverage can truly make a senior’s final days a dream – or a nightmare.