In all 58 California counties, long-term health care is far out of reach for the state's most vulnerable citizens: seniors living alone who are disabled.
"When getting help at home costs a year's income, something's wrong," said Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the Center for Health Policy Research. "It means that extended families will be stretched thin to provide care or that the elderly will bankrupt themselves to pay for a service provider."
Researchers found that the cost of a "medium" amount of long-term care — 16 hours a week — was often equal to or greater than the median income that single female seniors receive from Social Security, pensions and other sources.
When other basic living expenses were factored in, total costs nearly doubled or tripled.
Approximately 973,000 California seniors live alone. Of these, 50 percent do not have enough income to meet basic expenses.
Long-term care is not covered by most insurance policies. Only the lowest-income seniors in California can receive in-home care services through the state's Medi-Cal program. However, due to the state budget crisis, services for all but the most severely disabled may soon be cut.
"The only alternative, that no one wants, is going to a nursing home where Medi-Cal will eventually pick up the cost," Wallace said. "But Medi-Cal will only pay if a senior is extremely poor. Which means many seniors are caught in the middle — with too little money to afford in-home services and too much to qualify for a Medi-Cal nursing home."
MEDICA.de; Quelle: University of California Los Angeles