Arizona’s Senior Health Care Crisis is making affordable, quality care difficult to access. The crisis is the result of five factors:
- The senior population continues to swell,
- Most seniors struggle with limited incomes,
- For most senior’s, health just naturally deteriorates,
- There is massive confusion over Medicare and Medicaid benefits,
- Senior health care providers are struggling to get paid.
And now, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is fanning the flames.
Exploding Senior Population
Pew Research reports that the Baby Boomer generation peaked at 78.8 million during 1999 and, according to AARP, “. . . 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day, a trend that is expected to continue into the 2030s.”
The majority of America’s seniors are poor as documented by an April, 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation report titled Income and Assets of Medicare Beneficiaries, 2016-2035. The report indicates that, during 2016, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had an annual income of less than $26,200 and one-quarter had annual incomes below $15,250 and savings of less than $14,550.
CMS.gov, the Federal Medicare website, reports that there is a strong relationship between poverty and the health of older adults. “Among Medicare beneficiaries with incomes below the federal poverty level (around $12,000 per year for a single person), 38.7% spend over one-fifth of their annual income on premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses.”
The RAND Corporation study Assessing the Care of Vulnerable Elders, conducted in collaboration with Pfizer, Inc., made a comprehensive assessment of healthcare quality provided to the vulnerable elderly. The key finding was that vulnerable elderly receive (only) about half of the care that is recommended for them.
As seniors age, their need for affordable healthcare increases:
- The National Council on Aging reports that approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease and 68% have at least two.
- The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetes affects 14.3 million Americans aged 65+, or 26.8% of the older population.
- The Journals of Gerontology reports that the high prevalence of hypertension in older persons (nearly one of two subjects aged 60 years and older) plays an important role in the development of cerebrovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary heart disease.
Most seniors find taking advantage of Medicare and Medicaid entitlements daunting and confusing:
- In October 2018, Weiss Ratings (a consumer research and advisory service) published a report titled Over 50% of Seniors Say the Medicare Process is Confusing. The report noted that “More than 50% of seniors enrolling in Medicare during Open Enrollment find choosing the right plan confusing . . . Add in the process of choosing a supplemental plan, to cover some of Medicare’s ‘gaps’ like co-payments, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs and now it’s even more daunting.”
- A July 2017 article in the Huffington Post noted that “Medicaid is the nation’s single largest insurance provider, yet millions of Americans are seemingly unaware of what it does and who it serves.”
- The AARP article Navigating the Medicare Maze (March 2017) discusses an analysis of 16,000 calls to AARP’s consumer helpline during 2015. The key finding is that there was a great deal of confusion over 1) How to navigate Medicare Part B, 2) What is covered under Medicare Advantage, and 3) How to afford the rising costs of prescription drugs under Part D. An AARP spokesperson stated, “This analysis . . . makes clear that too many people with Medicare struggle to navigate the complexities of the Medicare program and to afford their coverage.”
Health Care Providers Struggling To Get Paid
Many of the hospitals and clinics that serve low income seniors are struggling to collect the Medicaid and related private insurance revenue that they need to survive.
Healthcare bankruptcy filings have soared in recent years as measured by the Polsinelli TrBK Health Care Services Distress Index. The Index reports that, versus its 2010 benchmark year, bankruptcy filings in the healthcare sector nearly quadrupled as of the third quarter 2019.
The Health Inc. article Rethinking Rural Health Solutions To Save Patients And Communities (February 2018), reports that, across the U.S., 673 rural hospitals are at risk of closing, with 210 being at extreme risk. In addition, 60 rural hospitals did close between 2010 and February 2016.
The American Hospital Association estimates that payments from Medicare and Medicaid lagged provider’s costs by $76.6 billion during 2018.
Are You A Victim Of Arizona’s
Senior Health Care Crisis?
If you are an Arizona senior who is not receiving the health care you need and deserve, contact ACCESSMed. We are a nonprofit community service dedicated to solving the senior health care crisis. We will help you enroll in the full range of Medicare, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage benefits that you are entitled to. And, there is never a fee for our services.