We've all read the horror stories, predictions of how Social Security will run out of money, forecasts of inflation eroding the value of one's pension, and so on. However, many blithely assume that government-funded medical insurance for the older generation is sacrosanct, a promise no politician would dare to break for fear of an electoral backlash.
Not so fast. A British politician has just put his foot down.
Ministers have a “moral duty” to introduce a cap on costs of care for the elderly, a former Government advisor has said - suggesting it was “silly” to suggest reforms were unaffordable.
Sir Andrew Dilnot, who led a cross-party commission on social care, spoke out following political rows between the Cabinet about a long-delayed green paper on the matter.
Plans to tackle the issue nearly cost the Tories the last election, with proposed measures branded a “dementia tax”.
Theresa May has said a social care green paper, due within weeks, should introduce a cap on costs for any individual.
But last week the Health Secretary wrote to the Prime Minister saying he was concerned that a limit of £100,000 [about US $132,000] could cost £3.4 bn [about US $4.48 bn] and mean significant tax rises.
Matt Hancock also highlighted Treasury concerns about a new system of insurance, which would see money automatically docked from monthly wage packets, to pay for care in later life, could hit pay packets too hard.
Sir Andrew yesterday urged ministers to press ahead with changes, almost eight years after his commission recommended a cap on costs.
He told The Telegraph: “There is a moral duty; we are letting people down in social care.
“I think we need to pool the risk and that means putting a cap in place.”
. . .
Under England’s care system, those in residential care face losing all savings and assets - including the value of their house - down to their last £23,500 [about US $31,000].
There's more at the link.
That's an unusually honest assessment from a politician. He's saying publicly that the cost of medical care for the elderly - including nursing home care, home health services, etc. - has become unaffordable. The government doesn't get enough tax revenue to pay for it.
The situation is, of course, much the same in these United States. We use Medicare almost without a second thought, not caring how much it costs . . . but sooner or later, those costs are going to spiral out of reach. Wikipedia provides this graph illustrating how costs have risen over the past couple of decades (click the image for a larger view):
The cost crunch currently being experienced in the UK is just as bad here, if not worse - and the outcome is likely to be a limit on how much government will spend on each individual. Not a comforting thought for those nearing that limit . . .