weekly blog--one for the ages
And it came to pass…Last week I signed up for Medicare in anticipation of my 65th birthday in a few months. It was an alphabet soup of choices that yielded a monthly savings of about $300 from my present plan, but did not include coverage for four of my biggest cost concerns heading toward retirement: dental, eye, hearing, and long-term care.
That got me thinking about coverage in other countries. Enter The Commonwealth Fund, which has been publishing surveys comparing health care in industrialized countries since 1998. A report they released at the end of 2014 in tribute to Medicare’s 50th anniversary focused on health care coverage for people age 65 and older.
There were 11 participating countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, US) representing a variety of health care approaches, including single-payer national systems and subsidized private insurance coverage. And their structures involved many different benefits, thresholds and exemptions.
Regardless, what each country shared aside from doing a better job for their seniors than the United States at a lower cost was that their systems covered all ages. Also, their seniors were less likely to arrive at age 65 trying to catch up after years without adequate medical care, and deductibles and cost-sharing requirements still left many Americans scrambling to afford drugs and doctors which also cost more.
Additionally, all 11 countries shared some problems: fragmented, uncoordinated care; gaps in hospital discharge plans; conflicting information from doctors, and a considerable proportion of older adults serving as caregivers to elderly or disabled people.
Survey Highlights (from NY Times article)