Monday, June 2, 2008

Is Wal-Mart gonna care for YOUR mom?

Maybe caring for our parents won't be so difficult, but when the time comes that we need help - even a small amount of assistance with cleaning or keeping track of our meds, who will be able to help us?

It's not just the numbers game, either, although that's significant. That's the problem where so many more of us in the baby boomer age group need a little help that there are not enough younger people in the "helper" age group to go around - not by a long, long way.

The other problem is a simple one - it's a matter of money. Last week I heard more than one senior care professional remark about their own communities, "Our buildings are really high-end - I could never afford to live there!"

People all over the US drive cars and live in houses that I couldn't afford, but when it comes to care, will I be able to afford it? Will it be like gasoline and basic health insurance now...rapidly approaching the point of pain? Or will it be even worse - completely out of the financial reach of many of us?

About 47 million Americans now lack health insurance. Health care costs are
rising far faster than general inflation. And health care is on track to consume
25% of U.S. gross domestic product by 2025. That would be up from 16% today and
5% in 1960. Jim Jubak, Health Leaders Media.

Jubak proceeds, a little tongue in cheek perhaps, to suggest that we leave it to Wal-Mart to come up with a solution. Our politicians haven't done such a good job so far, and, sadly, even the current candidates have few genuine solutions in mind. Wal-Mart has not only stepped directly into sales of generic medication, often undercutting a person's co-pay (why pay more in co-pay than you can directly to Wal-Mart?) but Wal-Mart has also led the way in store-based urgent care clinics, charging, again, less than many insured individual's co-pay amount. Read more...

Do you think that when the time comes that senior care is the #1 health care crisis in America, companies like Wal-Mart will be standing around waiting to see what the government proposes to do?

I doubt it. I wonder if we'll start seeing Wal-Mart (or Costco or Target) branded senior living communities - no frills, but basic, good affordable services on a national scale?

They might not be around in time to care for your mom or mine, but who knows what will happen by the time the tail end of the baby-boomers start needing help. Without many strong, persistant voices advocating for affordable care, it will be interesting, indeed.

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