weekly blog--one for the ages
Below are several tech-related products and stories that I’ve run across recently that offer a glimpse into the future.
Experts predict that health care spending in the US will jump as high as $3.6 trillion in 2016, up from $3.2 trillion in 2015. Both Democrats and Republicans believe such increases are unsustainable, but how to achieve savings while preserving access and quality health care under a national program remains a growing concern.
Beneath this cloud, ConfrontingAging’s mole deep inside Mar-a-Lago reports that President Trump cornered Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the bathroom during their dinner last Saturday night to seek advice on how to replace Obamacare with a more cost-effective plan. Abe sympathized with Trump, acknowledging that health care costs in Japan were also spiraling out of control even with lower overall health care costs than the US, and with the government setting the fees that health care providers charge for medical services and doctor salaries.
In 1961 Japan implemented an obligatory Universal healthcare system of which 50 percent of the cost was financed from insurance premiums, and the rest was shared equally by national and local governments.
Under the system, recognized as the third best in the world, Japanese citizens pay up to 30 percent of service costs until the age of 70, 10 to 20 percent between age 70 and 74, and 10 percent for those age 75 and above. Higher income elderly pay a maximum of 30 percent, and since the year 2000, all citizens above the age of 40 had to pay an extra tax to be enrolled in long term care insurance.
To close the funding gap, Abe said his government planned to make the 64 to 74 age group pay a higher percent of the service costs, and several municipalities were planning to de-regulate long-term care services to promote a mixed, public and private, care service provision.
Further, his government was considering several more novel approaches including a voluntary-payment scheme that enabled people to pay more for medical services that go beyond basic coverage. Such schemes have already been adopted in countries such as Germany and Switzerland, and could reduce Japan’s health care funding gap by as much as 25 percent by the year 2035, according to experts.
“Reforms will involve more struggles for the elderly,” Abe lamented, recognizing that more than 25 percent of Japan’s population was over the age of 65, the highest in the world. However, he reiterated that it was the “government’s responsibility” to serve all of the people, and keep them safe and in good health--effectively, efficiently and with equity.
Grateful for Abe’s insight, Trump promised to support Japan 100%. While they were shaking hands to cement the deal, one of Trump’s aides burst into the bathroom. “We need you back at the dinner table,” he said with rising urgency. “North Korea just fired a ballistic missile.”
* This blog is a work of fiction. References to real people, events, and establishments are only provided for a sense of authenticity and are used fictitiously.
England’s parliament issued a white paper this week on how it plans to solve the country’s housing shortage. The government says at least 250,000 new homes are needed each year to keep pace with demand. One option under consideration: provide incentives to home owners over age 55 to downsize and make their current home available for sale to younger buyers.
47.2 million of England’s 14.3 million homeowners own their home outright and 85% of them are at least 55 years-old. According to the publisher of the British website, United for All Ages, which provides consumers with advice on how to downsize, 49% of the owner occupied homes were ‘under-occupied’ (at least two bedrooms more than needed).
In Britain, it’s estimated that only one in ten older people downsize while in the U.S. one in five do so. Those that want to downsize but don’t complain about lack of housing options, the hassle and cost of moving, remaining close to children and grandchildren, and having to declutter their possessions.
In the U.S., two out-of-the-box ideas that are beginning to circulate to help owners age-in-place…First, allow home owners to access $17 trillion in pre-tax retirement savings like IRA’s, 401K’s/403b’s and health savings accounts to make their homes more age appropriate. Second, provide tax incentives to businesses who develop products and services that make it easier and safer for people to remain in their homes and apartments.
There was a marijuana retail store next to the restaurant that my daughter took my wife and me to last week in Seattle. Washington State has allowed recreational and medical sales for several years and with all of the pronouncements being issued in the other Washington these days, walking in to buy a few ounces seemed tempting. After all, marijuana (cannabis) has been used to reduce stress and other ailments for thousands of years.
But did you know there are two main strains of marijuana that provide different effects?
If you are upset over the daily spate of executive orders, consider the Sativa strain. It acts as a stimulant so you can write more letters and take part in more protests. If you are a member of the senior brigade, those over age 65, it can be used during the day to generate the needed energy to perform activities of daily living such as cleaning, washing laundry, and cooking. Sativa also can activate creativity in the brain to help make menial activities more enjoyable, stimulate appetite, overcome depression, and help alleviate headaches and nausea associated with cancer and chemotherapy.
If you can’t sleep in fear that the U.S. will be drawn into a preventable nuclear war, the Indica strain is a really really great option. Believe me, it is generally used at night to create a tired or drowsy effect to ease insomnia. Indica also provides a more powerful body high than Sativa, and can serve as a pain suppressant and muscle relaxant, especially for seniors suffering from cancer, arthritis, or glaucoma. Further, seniors recovering from surgery may find that smoking or ingesting Indica reduces nausea, and stimulates appetite to prevent weight loss and frailty.