Emigrating From the U.S. May Be the Only Way To Afford Eldercare

We laughed, but joking aside, agreed: Growing old—or falling ill—in the United States is not for the poor.

The national median cost in the United States for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living community is now $4,000 per month, or $48,000 per year. Alzheimer’s or dementia care increases that cost by an additional $1,200 per month. Seniors must also often plan for out-of-pocket expenses, in some cases up to $2,000 in copays, coinsurance and prescription drugs, as well as amenities not provided by care facilities, such as toiletries and nonprescription medicines.

Why the disparity between Germany and the United States? Benjamin Veghte, research director at the advocacy group Caring Across Generations (CAG)—who, like me, lived for 15 years in Germany—explains, “There is no organized system for eldercare in the United States, while Germany has a social insurance program. Also, healthcare in the United States is mostly private providers, and since individuals have no leverage to bargain, costs are higher. In Germany, there is a budget for healthcare, whereby the government negotiates prices with providers. Everyone pays in, creating a whole nation of clients and a viable business model.”

– In These Times

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