The 21st century is characterized by longevity in lifespan that has been brought about by the industrial revolution. The rate of birth around the world is also on the decline. This means that the older portion of the population is on the increase. The old members of the population have specific needs when it comes to healthcare provision. Governments around the world have to come up with effective ways of taking care of the older members in the society.
Various health insurance providers consider the increasing healthcare concerns of old people a financial burden. On the other hand, the extra health cost is passed on to the old people. This means that governments have the responsibility of formulating policies that address the specific needs of this group. This paper will address health insurance coverage for old people and the accompanying aspects.
The health needs of old people are varied just like those of the other portions of the population. Some old people enjoy good health until they are in their eighties while others start experiencing frail health when they are in their forties. However, there is a definite pattern when it comes to the relationship between advancement in age and ill health. When people get older, they are more likely to need constant medical care and attention. Therefore, the need for an adequate health insurance plan is a priority for several old people. Older people are also at risk of suffering from serious medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
These medical conditions are usually accompanied by other minor health conditions that necessitate constant or daily attention for old people. These minor conditions might include loss of eyesight, memory, hearing ability, movement ability, and motor skills. This constant care may sometimes include additional home-based care and assistance. Good health insurance policies include home-based care in their packages. However, most of the current global health insurance packages only cater for basic medical services such as outpatient services and prescription drugs.
The increase in older population has driven the demand for adequate health insurance coverage up. This is because at the age of 65 years and above, constant medical attention becomes a necessity and ceases being optional. Studies indicate that old people who are between 65 and 75 years of age are “twice as likely to be admitted to a hospital for treatment for treatment as opposed to the average person, while those aged over 85 years are five times as likely to require hospital treatment” (McWilliams, 2004). Old people also record more visits to the doctor compared to the rest of the population. It is also apparent that old people who are suffering from complex health conditions use hospital facilities more frequently and often require extra medication. Moreover, old people require longer periods to recuperate from diseases.
Considering all the above health issues, it is up to governments around the world to ensure that the old-people section of the population is well catered for when it comes to insurance coverage. In the United States, Medicare is the most popular insurance cover for old people. Medicare covers people who are above 65 years of age. While Medicare presents a wide range of coverage options, none of its packages is complete (Rowland & Lyons, 2009).
Therefore, all those people who are covered by Medicare have to pay for some medical services using their own means. This coverage option is favored because of its inclusive nature. However, Medicare presents tough options for those people who survive on a fixed income. In addition, Medicare does not cater to specific individual needs. Those who opt for this form of insurance have to choose a pre-packaged health insurance plan. The fact that Medicare only covers people who are above 65 years of age excludes a portion of the population that might still be considered ‘old’. Japan has one of the best life expectancies in the world and this translates to a big number of old people.
Nevertheless, Japan has one of the most efficient health insurance schemes for old people. The rate of recovery from diseases for old people in Japan is also among the best globally. In China, reforms towards a healthcare system that addresses specific needs of the elderly are ongoing. It is estimated that the benefits of these reforms may not be fully realized until the year 2020. Most European countries boast of impressive health insurance schemes that target the old people. Some of the European countries with the best age-oriented health insurance policies include France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, and Spain.
There are several issues that hinder the achievement of comprehensive insurance coverage for the elderly. Some of these issues include lack of a wide range of coverage options, socioeconomic factors, health ethics, and inadequate government policies. Studies indicate that government resolutions produce the best results. In addition, attention should be paid to ethical principles that make health care accessible to all (Trotochaud, 2006). Inclusion of health care providers in policy formulation can also facilitate adequate insurance coverage for old people. Old people with low-income sources are the ones who are most affected by bad health insurance policies in both developed and developing countries.
McWilliams, J. (2004). Health insurance coverage and mortality among the near-elderly. Health Affairs, 23(4), 230-233.
Rowland, D. & Lyons, B. (2009). Medicare, Medicaid, and the elderly poor. Health Care Finance, 18(2), 61-85.
Trotochaud, K. (2006). Ethical issues and access to healthcare. Infus Nursing, 29(3), 165-170.