You, On Medicaid

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

You’d better pray Medicaid is not cut. There’s a 75% chance you’ll be depending on it if you need a nursing home.

Three out of four people using a nursing home depend on Medicaid to pay for their care. That means you and your parents will probably be counting on Medicaid to pay for them. It means that there’s a very good chance you will be counting on it for yourself, and the quality of the place you go and the way you are treated will depend on the care that can be afforded. That care has a bad reputation now. What do you think it will be like if Medicaid is cut the way some people want?

Before you say “Me, on Medicaid? No way!”, let me acquaint you with the facts.

Nursing home care today costs about $100,000 per year for average places. If you want top notch care, it’s going to cost more. Medicare, the government’s health insurance for people over 65, and private health insurance, do not pay for nursing home care for more than 100 days. Medicare and Medicaid are two different things. Medicare is the government’s health insurance that everyone gets at 65. Medicaid is the government’s health insurance for the poor. It’s what kicks in if you become destitute. Medicaid is what has been paying for nursing home care.

Long term care insurance for nursing homes is expensive, something that few can afford. That means you’ll use savings to pay for nursing home care. Unless you’re a millionaire, you’ll go broke quickly with a new expense of $100,000 a year. A 2015 analysis by the Government Accountabilty office showed that the average savings of those 55–64 was only $104,000. Oh-oh. That means they’ll be counting on Medicaid.

Certainly, we need to have a plan to save more, but there is no guarantee that will happen, especially if you become unable to work or earn great sums of money. There is a good chance, 3 out of 4, that if you need a nursing home, you’ll go through whatever you saved, at $100,000 per year, and be looking for Medicaid to pay for your living and care.

By all means, plan on saving enough to pay the $100,000 indefinitely, but you need to have a back up plan if you don’t. That’s Medicaid.

So, pay attention when you hear people say that we need to cut social welfare programs and cut Medicaid. In regards to welfare, Medicaid is by far the nation’s largest welfare program in the system, far more than all other programs combined, and nursing home care is the largest item in the Medicaid budget. If you don’t believe it, check the sources I’m citing by clicking on the links at the underlined portions here. When they talk about cutting welfare and Medicaid, they are talking about cutting what is spent on the nursing home care you and your family will be needing. Believe me, you don’t want that cut. Go see what it’s like now, and imagine cutting back on what they are doing.

Certainly, we need to manage our households and nation honestly and efficiently. We need to make sure they are well managed and not victim to fraud and abuse. But you can’t run a healthy household by cutting out spending on things we need to survive. You need to generate enough revenue to cover the expenses in running a healthy household. It’s the same with the national budget. Cutting what we spend on necessities and cutting what we generate in revenue is a prescription for malaise and death. We need to build a robust household, a robust nation, not a weak one.

So, when you hear people talking about cutting Medicaid and reducing the taxes on the wealthy, think about what that will do. It will give the wealthy people more money to spend on what they spend it on while the care in nursing homes, your back-up plan, is reduced.

Think about what kind of nation and what kind of care you are going to get. Call your elected representatives and tell them you are watching what they do.

William Anderson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in weight loss, eating disorders and addictions. He was an obese heavy smoker and workaholic until his early thirties, and burned out, but survived and changed direction. He changed in many ways, among them, losing 140 pounds permanently. Health, in a holistic way, is now his mission. He is the author of The Anderson Method of Permanent Weight Loss.