Vail Daily column: Planning health care for those over 40
June 30, 2014
On July 31, we will host the Preventative and Planning Symposium. The intent of this event is to educate those who may have the onset of a medical issue that could possibly be addressed now to defer imminent consequences. This event addresses more than elderly issues. Areas covered include education and planning for our medical future for those 40 and older, and how to assist our parents and senior loved ones with their medical needs.
We hope you will attend and RSVP, as space will be limited.
With fabulous technology, active lifestyles and medical advances, there is little doubt that the Baby Boomers will live longer than preceding generations.
Regardless of the physical prowess of seniors and the Boomers, the human body will not endure forever. Looking forward, our access to health providers and service is going to be a great concern.
With an aging population, rising health care costs, and rapid health system changes, significant challenges for delivery of health care to our senior population exist. Thus, it's essential that all of us speak out and participate in building a health care system that provides high-quality care.
Some of the essential needs to be addressed include independent care, home care, day care, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals or hospices. New informational technologies, such as electronic medical health records and telemedicine, will greatly help to compensate for a shrinking health care workforce in relation to the patient population. Many of these new technologies and tools will help patients communicate with their providers and manage their own conditions.
Research indicates our state and federal governments cannot afford the current levels of demand for Medicare and Medicaid. As we look forward, the quality of care these programs provide, will not live up to what most Baby Boomers demand.
LONGTERM CARE INSURANCE
One resource that is providing for higher levels of care is longterm care insurance. While not all that well known, longterm care insurance often provides for levels of care greater than what public programs are able to provide. (This will be addressed at the Symposium.) Depending on the policy options, longterm care insurance can help you pay for the care you need, whether living at home, in an assisted living facility or nursing home. The insurance might also pay expenses for adult day care, care coordination and other services.
Longterm care insurance presents some challenges though. In order for it to work for both the consumer and the provider, longterm care insurance needs to be purchased before it is needed. Like auto insurance, you may pay your policy premiums for many years. While the answer may vary depending upon who you ask, the best and most affordable time to buy longterm care insurance is between the ages of 45 to 55. Another challenge is many people this age do not have the funds to set aside for their future medical and health needs.
In an article that was provided to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, three key strategies were identified to improve the health of older Americans:
• Find new models of care — acute, preventive, chronic, rehabilitative and longterm — for improving the organization, delivery and primary care practice of health care for older persons.
• Aligning financial incentives and benefit decisions with desired clinical care and outcomes.
• Improve access to care and reducing health disparities related to income, education, race, ethnicity and gender.
To build and support the agenda outlined above, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should do the following:
• Designate older adults as a priority population.
• Undertake a major initiative to improve the health and health care of older Americans. Resulting research initiatives should aim especially to increase our knowledge about cost-effective interventions for an increasingly diverse older population and to identify strategies to assure that research findings are implemented in everyday practice.
• Continue a dialog with researchers and federal agencies to further develop an agenda for aging research.
• Build the foundation for making aging health services research a longterm priority.
In order to change our current system of senior health care, we must be proactive. A health system in which seniors participate in and take responsibility for their own health is not pie-in-the–sky difficult. As those of us not quite in our senior years increase our education and activism, we can forge a new and better future.
Please consider attending the July Preventative and Planning Symposium. It will be very informative. Your RSVP will ensure that a venue will be chosen to accommodate your attendance. Please log on to http://www.wshc.net to RSVP.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.