Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gasoline: The New Health Care Cost

There are many factors that add to the cost of health care for the modern American. Now, as we ramp up for the Presidential race, another line item has been added to the bill: gasoline. With the shortage of qualified nurses and the current freeze on Medicare cost increases, this is an issue of increasing import.

Via Gary Gosselin's article in The Oakland Business Review as syndicated through

Home health care workers and businesses are adjusting services and spending as they adapt to high fuel prices.

Michigan home care workers make 11.5 million visits a year, driving an estimated 161.3 million miles, according to the National Association for Homecare & Hospice.

With many of the home care workers performing nonmedical functions, the pay is relatively low, in the $8- to $10-an-hour range.

The article includes interviews with numerous providers of home health care that detail many of the cutbacks being enacted in order to combat the high price of gas. From employees who can no longer afford to make it to work to additional surcharges on health care to cover fuel, it paints an uneasy picture of reduced services for the increasingly large ranks of elderly who require home-based care. As more and more Baby Boomers reach advanced age and gas prices continue to skyrocket, the impact of fuel prices will extend its reach farther and farther.

Home health care is predicted to increase thirty percent between now and 2012. This is on top of the increase from only 633,000 workers in the industry during 2000 to a whopping 913,300 in 2007. The spike in numbers here reminds me of the prices I see at the pump daily, steadily rising. With an overall 50% increase in gas prices since this time last year the trends do not seem heartening.

I guess a house call is out of the question?

SOURCE: "Some predict shakeout in Michigan as fuel prices hit home health care" 07/17/08
photo courtesy of Svadilfari, used under its Creative Commons license

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