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Seniors Health Care Costs

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For decades, research has documented the implications of the bulge of baby-boomers followed by years of low fertility and smaller families. Despite some scare mongering in the media, there won’t be a sudden, overwhelming impact on health care costs. The boomers will reach age 65 over a period of almost 20 years, which represents a relatively slow pace of demographic change. And it’s not as if once turning 65, they suddenly become a drag on the economy and the health care system, as many will continue to contribute by working, volunteering or providing care for others.

But change is needed: The existing system with its emphasis on hospital-based acute care, is no longer suited to meet today’s senior’s needs for preventive and chronic care. Dramatic changes in the organization and provision of various types of health care are required to reduce costs and improve quality of care. One key issue is to ensure the number and type of health care workers is appropriate and that infrastructure is in place to best meet the need in a cost effective and high quality manner.

Ever increasing costs: Unfortunately seniors can be easy targets for upselling, which is made worse when things are not fully covered by provincial health plans. Many people don’t know where to turn for advice on the costs of the health-care products they need. Adding to their confusion, there’s next to no information on the health-care up-selling that occurs in Canada.

There is little or no regulatory oversight, and provincial authorities are deluged with complaints from seniors about improper costs of medical products and services. People are being charged for things they shouldn’t be because they don’t know what an appropriate charge is!

Regardless of whether they’re up-sold or not, many health-care products seniors use such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dentures are expensive, and there is little information for retirees on how to shop around to get a lower price. For example, dentures can range anywhere from $600 to $8,000. Eyeglasses can run $500 to $1,000 for custom lenses, plus several hundred dollars for frames. Hearing aids too can range from $1,500 to $3,500 or more per device.

Low income seniors are concerned about being able to pay for some of the very necessary things that cost a lot of money. Those without private insurance struggle to pay for these products on an income of $19,000 a year, so it’s important to do some research before making  costly health-care related purchases, whether that means recruiting friends or family for help or talking to an expert. Do some homework, get a couple of quotes, have someone with you who’s not emotionally invested and not shy about asking questions. Plus seniors should inquire about government grants for health-care devices or access community care centres which can refer them to lower-cost retailers. And word of mouth can help in securing cheaper items by just asking friends for references!
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