Idaho Elder Law - Future of Medicare Threatened by Alzheimer's Care Costs

Dementia 2report from the Alzheimer’s Association projects that Medicare spending on American's with Alzheimer’s will more than quadruple to $589 billion annually by 2050. Today, Medicare spends nearly one-in-five dollars on people with Alzheimer’s but by 2050, it could be one-in-three.

In a recent article on the Congress Blog, Harry Johns discusses the threat to Medicare from the high costs of caring for patients suffering from dementia. The article points out that part of the high cost of dealing with Alzheimer's is the way in which it makes other diseases more expensive. In fact, according to the study released by the Alzheimer's Association a patient's cost for the care of diabetes is 81% higher if they also suffer from Alzheimer's. His article is well worth taking the time to read.

To make matters worse, much needed research into the cause and treatment of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia is grossly lacking when compared to other medical challenges faced by seniors. In fact, for every $26,000 spent by Medicare and Medicaid to care for individuals with Alzheimer’s, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends only $100 on Alzheimer’s research. Research is drastically needed since Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

For 2015, the National Institutes of Health is projected to spend more than $5 billion on cancer, $3 billion on HIV/AIDS and nearly $2 billion on cardiovascular disease. Yet they will only spend $586 million on Alzheimer’s disease.

America has a great track record when it comes to advances in disease treatment following focus on research, as we have seen with Cancer, Heart Disease and Diabetes, and we hope that will be the case with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. However, we have no idea how long that may take. For all of us, the situation should cause great concern. Without a foreseeable cure or even treatment for this terrible disease Seniors and their families can only plan for the high cost of care that will be required, both in dollars and time spent caring for those affected. Adding to the complex situation will be who decides how a family member is cared for once they are unable to choose for themselves.

At Idaho Estate Planning we can help you navigate the elective transfer of decision-making authority through a power of attorney or trust and can help you qualify or be prepared to qualify for needs-based programs like Medicaid and Veterans Pension Benefits if necessary. We set up a legal framework through which the client and his or her family can transfer assets and decision-making responsibilities.

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., with 5.4 million Americans suffering from the disease. So, health care proxies will be another important aspect of your legal plan.

You may want to read 2 previously posted blogs titled Maintaining Control of Your Healthcare Options and Recognizing the Signs of Dementia. When dealing with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia it is critical to start NOW. At Idaho Estate Planning, we can help you find the resources you need to put your long-term care plan together. We have the experience and expertise to help you maintain your options and protect yourself as well as your loved ones now and into the future. Remember, good planning is no accident!

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