Specially since I am well into my “Golden Years” (I’ll be 69 in September of this year, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise), many people ask me about growing old and the provisions for elder care here in the Philippines.
Some of their questions seem to be general concerns about my plans, and how I will be cared for in my old age, and many folks want to know what would be in store for them if they move to the Philippines and retire.
Well, The Real Answer Is Nobody Knows
If you’re like me you have probably read a thousand articles about aging, elder care, government programs .. and especially these days, hordes of salesmen try to flog Extended Care Insurance to cover prolonged stays in nursing homes. A big push from government employees, like the folks who work for the Civil Service retirement system taking care of retired government employees (that would be me).
I really think the US government should NOT be in the business of promoting commercial insurance, but given the huge numbers of us “more elderly” folks coming along every day, those who don’t have LTC are going to have to be cared for by “someone” and if the “someone” is only Uncle Sam, I truly think the USA economy will crumble.
The US is for all intents and purposes insolvent right now, today, as I write this, because the amount of money coming in via taxes and the amount of money going out to pay interest on US debts owed to others is virtually equal.
It’s like having a salary of $4,000 a month and credit card bills with total minimum monthly payments adding up to $4,000. Your long-term prognosis is not good … and neither is Uncle Sam’s.
Some Of The Facts:
- Statistics tell us that roughly 80% of us are going to need Long Term care (primarily a nursing home) for at least part of our latter years.
- Those depressing, odiferous places are damn expensive … easily $80,000 a year or more.
- Regular commercial Health Insurance either doesn’t pay for nursing homes at all, or only pays a limited amount.
- Social Security, which virtually all of us have after age 65, only pays for nursing homes for very short periods of time. It won’t take care of LTC needs
Thus it’s pretty easy to see why commercial insurance companies are going crazy to capture this huge and lucrative market. Out of everyone alive in the USA who is lucky enough to reach “old age”, about 80% are going to need Long Term care. Currently there are something like 100,000 of you out there reaching Social Security age every month … so that’s one huge market.
If You Do Stay in the USA Until You Need Care
It will not ONLY be the payment of the huge costs that will be your problem. Even if you have the resources to pay thousands and thousands of dollars a month, What kind of care will you get? Time will tell, and you’ll then be too old (and out of it) to really make any change.
Here’s an excerpt from a cheerful little news item that crossed my desk a few days back:
… A conference in San Francisco last week on innovation and aging featured a keynote address by Cynthia Breazeal, founder and director of the Personal Robots Group at MIT’s Media Lab. Breazeal’s research focuses on robots that can make social and emotional connections with people. Her lab has developed a range of robots ranging from small six-legged devices to small stationary machines that mimic human expression and communication.
Breazeal’s lab has designed a robot called Nexi that can blink, shrug, and make facial expressions; another, called Autom, is designed to help people lose or maintain weight. And telepresence robots can gesture and pick up non-verbal cues. (ed comment, will it recognize (or know how to give the “one digit salute”? 😉
No doubt, the demand for caregiving help will be there. …
You may be interested in reading the whole article. It’s not very long, but BOY is it scary to me. Indeed the demand will surely be there. But not for me, no thanks, Mr. Roboto, thank you very much.
What If You Make Your Own Plan Instead of “Submitting”
However “cute” and attentive such little gremlins like “Nexi” and “Autom” and their ilk may be, I’m afraid I won’t be submitting myself to their tender mercies. The fact that US Medicare and other government entitlement programs don’t cover me while living in the Philippines is an object of great concern to many folks I talk with. Perhaps it even worries my family back in the USA as well.
But NOT dealing with US Medicare, Medicaid, ACA (Obamacare) and all the rest of the “Alphabet Soup” that advertises that they care for you, while actually jamming you into the “mold” of submission (and in the case of Medicaid, actually divesting you of your entire estate in order to offer you limited care) to me is actually a relief.
My Plan, Will It Work?
Well as I said above, nobody knows for sure. Anyone who wants to challenge my assumptions is welcome but you have to keep quiet for 30 more years, which is how long I plan to live. We won’t know for sure how well that will work until then .. so mark the date on your calendar.
I am currently in good health. So is everyone until they get sick. When I do get sick, I first pay from my pocket … I know that’s a strange thought for most Americans. But I typically pay much less for a doctor’s visit than you pay back in the US for just your co-pay.
When, it’s not “if” it is “when” something happens that I can’t pay for out of pocket, I’ll get part of my money back from PhilHealth, the very inexpensive Philippine government health plan (and yes, foreigners who are not married to Filipinos may avail of PhilHealth as well.)
I also have (free) TRICARE insurance which comes to me as a retired US serviceman.
Next I maintain three different US credit cards, zero balance, which together would fund several million pesos of Philippine medical care. If I run up big bills on my cards, well I’ll just pay them my monthly payments, same as most other Americans are doing. Or, if things get too bad, I’ll just stop paying. They can’t garnish my Federal Pension and that “credit rating’ thing you all worry so much about? It has nothing to do with me here in the Philippines.
I actually have yet another level of health care support I could activate if I needed it, but that’s not important to our discussion here.
Long Term Care in the Philippines
That’s the main subject I started writing this article about, so let’s get to the point and wrap it up, shall we? I have no need of Long Term Care insurance, or of nursing homes for that matter. My sons will NEVER have to face the burden of deciding on a home for dad and even worse the burden of deciding how to pay for it.
My wife and I are completing the total renovation of the little house we bought some years ago here in Marilao, Bulacan. We added a second story, added bathrooms and most importantly made sure there were no steps from the street up to the main floor, and there’s a den/guest room on the first floor with an adjoining, handicapped accessible bath.
Not wishing bad luck on ourselves, but if either of us is stricken with something immobilizing, we could be looked after quite comfortably in out own home.
We can hire a registered nurse for as little as P4,000 or P5,000 a month, so round the clock nursing if needed won’t break out budget.
We can also hire ancillary care, say a physical therapist for even cheaper than a nurse.
And if the end is near and I have to go to hospital because I need more care than can be provided at home … just as would likely occur if I were back in the States, a hospital like the one pictured above, situated on the shore of Subic Bay, will run less than $900USD a _month_ for an air conditioned private room. That’s way less than any hotel in that area would charge, and TRICARE will pay 75%. Any wonder why I am not in any hurry to rush back to the USA and place myself under Medicare’s tender care?
So Do I Have a Solution?
I am not so arrogant or ignorant to think I have all the answers, but I must say I’m really open to discussing why on earth I would want to stay in the USA (37th best ranked health care in the world, according to the WHO) in order to get only the level of care which our “Nanny Government” says I am allowed, instead of making my own way, deciding on my own level if care and being happy along that way.
America was founded and most Americans used to be free and independent. Today? I’m not so sure. It seems so many Americans, especially those who have attained my age or greater, just sit around in fear and apprehension, waiting to be told just what the government says they can have this year or next.
Seems a shame I have to live outside my own country in order to feel like a free American.