TruthToTell Aug 27: WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OUR SENIORS?: Costs of aging in Minnesota - PODCAST BELOW
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It’s the been the talk of demographers and advocates for many years: Boomers are aging, becoming part of the dominant demographic of our time while the economy continues to tank and conservative political pressures seem hell-bent on keeping it that way – as long as the 1% gets theirs.
Even as the economics of aging are playing against self-sufficiency, especially in a job market committed to younger, if less stable, workers, life expectancy expands for various reasons. It grows more difficult for aging Minnesotans to find work, retain jobs and contribute to the economy well beyond that very arbitrary retirement deadline set by science society a very long time ago – and long since rendered by nature as generally too young to wrap up one’s working life – with the exception of those rare birds who can both afford and wish to live another thirty to fifty years in the lap of luxury and/or leisure.
If 60 if the new 50 and 70 is the new 55, what the hell are all these people going to do for the rest of their much longer lives? While the gap separating men and women’s life expectancy has narrowed, women are still many years longer the men on average.
And what about women, in particular, who remain too far behind men in the wages and salaries earned, but who are and always have lived up to 20% longer than men, in general, and are thus needing even more opportunity for taking home enough money to stay alive, live independently in their own homes or apartments? Women are struggling mightily against economic pressures that multiply as they age.
We have a strange norm at work here. Because age 65 has been for the longest time a benchmark for retirement, Social Security and Medicare, we have developed a society that labels its citizens 65 and over as all but senile when well more than half of us are perfectly suited to productive work. And we vote. And we remember. Why, even 3M – the granddaddy of Minnesota’s largest corporations – still forces its chief executive out at age 65.
Judges must retire by age 70. Some do so earlier, but with the exponential rise in caseloads for every level of the courts, instead of raising the mandatory retirement age to more like 75 or 80 (with caveats for some of the exigencies of aging as a militating factor), they turn most retired judges into “senior judges.” Senior status keeps these men and women on the bench long after officially retiring.
These are just examples. And some of the other issues confronting seniors in direct relation to their aging are the costs of prescription drugs. Part D Medicare still requires that the so-called Medicare gap be filled with out-of-pocket burdens that can break the bank for the next few years - although the Affordable Healthcare Act appears to eliminate the gap and provide continuous drug coverage starting a couple of years from now.
Still, the cost of these drugs, especially some brand name pharmaceuticals not yet lapsing into generics and often suffered by the chronically ill. For example: there is NO generic substitute for the very effective AdVair asthma steroidal inhaler – so, without insurance coverage, the total cost per month can exceed $200 for each diskus. Its worse for the most effective inhalant for chronic pulmonary patients – those with emphysema and other breathing disorders – where, without insurance, the monthly cost is almost $300. There are worse examples, but if a doctor were to say to a patient with COPD that he or she should use both drugs, that’s a $500 bill for just two of the drugs that may be keeping some patients alive and independent.
That’s why drug companies hate the Canadian connection where the same – and generic – version (tiotropium) – IS available for about $22 per month through RxRights.org. Even the brand, Spiriva, costs less than $68 a month.
Employment and economic security for seniors and, especially women, but for all of our aging population as well as the costs associated with maintaining good health under the United States medical system fairly scream for reform – reform resisted by those who work on behalf corporate interests of one kind or another – are this week’s topics of discussion with advocates from ElderNomics and Mature Voices/RxRights.org.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI carry on this conversation with our guests:
- Title: TTT1235–Aug27-ElderIssues12
- Length: 55:46 minutes (51.05 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)