PRINCETON, NJ -- Seniors are the least likely of all age groups in the U.S. to say that healthcare reform will benefit their personal healthcare situation. By a margin of three to one, 36% to 12%, adults 65 and older are more likely to believe healthcare reform will reduce rather than expand their access to healthcare. And by 39% to 20%, they are more likely to say their own medical care will worsen rather than improve.
It’s no wonder seniors are skeptical.
Listening to President Obama and leadership of both the Democratic and Republican Parties in recent debates over health care reform, you’d think the government was single-handedly funding top-of-the line health care coverage for America’s seniors through Medicare, routinely lumped with Social Security as an “entitlement” program.
Seldom mentioned is that these same seniors paid into Social Security throughout their working years. Post retirement, a hefty sum is deducted from their monthly Social Security check for Medicare. Medicare’s inadequate coverage explains why those who can afford to do so, feel compelled to purchase private supplemental policies.
Most troubling for seniors have been proposed requirements such as those of reform legislation recently sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. The Democratic senator no doubt means well, but his Senior Navigation and Planning Act of 2009 appears to encourage seniors to refuse medical care and “go gentle into that good night,” Dylan Thomas be damned. Warner’s bill includes the following provisions:
* enhances Medicare and Medicaid coverage of advanced illness care management services;
* requires doctors to provide patients with information on living wills and other planning tools;
* gives providers incentives to achieve accreditation and certification in hospice and palliative care;
* encourages more comprehensive discharge planning; and
*increases public awareness about the importance of end-of-life planning.
Don’t’ get me wrong; I believe in end-of-life planning. I just get nervous with the thought of governmental intrusion in such a critical personal matter.