According to the University of Massachusetts Boston's (UMB) Elder Index, 54 percent of older women living alone are in a precarious financial situation. The index also found that 45 percent of single, older men cannot afford to live day by day. Both were either poor according to federal poverty standards, or were earning incomes too low to pay for essential expenses.
The UMB's index takes several factors – such as the cost of health care, food, housing, and transportation – that can be adjusted based on senior Americans' health status.
Based on data obtained from the index's 2020 edition – about five million older women living alone, two million older men living alone and more than two million older couples were earning yearly incomes that classified them as "financially insecure." (Related: More and more older Americans are experiencing food insecurity.)
Jan Mutchler, director of UMB's Gerontology Institute, said the 2020 estimates were made prior to inflation soaring to its 40-year high of nine percent. He added that older adults continued to lose jobs during the pandemic's second and third years. The pandemic also resulted in the highest unemployment rates for Americans 55 years old and above in almost 50 years, according to The Hill.
With those stressors layered on, even more people are struggling," Mutchler stated.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the 2021 average poverty guideline for a single American is $12,880 per year – with the total slightly higher for those living in Alaska and Hawaii. This guideline can be used to determine if Americans are eligible for some federal assistance programs.
Meanwhile, the charitable organization National Council on Aging said it hopes to use the Elder Index's metrics to better understand the true costs of growing old in the country. Its website stated that its Equity in Aging Collective "will advocate for the adoption of the Elder Index and for improving the standard-of-living measures used to determine eligibility for programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, taxes, food assistance, and housing support."
Even though Americans aged 65 and older are eligible for Medicare coverage, data from June 2022 showed that the majority of older residents consider healthcare costs a financial burden. As the senior population continues to age, the expanding age group will strain federally or state-sponsored health insurance even further.
A recent poll by Gallup and nonprofit West Health showed that 37 percent of respondents aged 65 and up are concerned about being able to pay for necessary healthcare services in the near year. The figure was higher – 45 percent – for respondents aged between 50 and 64 years old.
The survey also showed that a big proportion of respondents 50 to 64 years old skip treatments and cut back on other essentials just to cope with healthcare costs. Most of the poll's respondents eschewed buying clothes to be able to afford healthcare – followed by over-the-counter drugs, food and utilities.
"With adults aged 50 [to] 64 already sacrificing to a greater degree than their older counterparts, there will certainly be many older adults needing medical care because of the health outcomes of delaying or skipping treatment," said Gallup. It cited the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which pointed out that "healthcare costs in the U.S. remain higher than those of other developed countries, but paying more for care is not resulting in better health outcomes."
"Policymakers urgently need to grapple with how to improve efficiency and reduce costs of healthcare and prescription drugs in the country, so Americans do not need to sacrifice basic needs to pay for healthcare or medicine or to avoid care entirely because it is too expensive."
Watch the below video that talks about the politicization of healthcare.
This video is from the The Jim Stroud Show channel on Brighteon.com.