WASHINGTON, DC, June 23 — If any segment of the population is hard hit by the rising cost of healthcare, it is our nation’s growing population of seniors. It’s a particularly worrisome development for them at a time when the Biden inflationary spiral is gaining momentum.
A new Gallup survey, in conjunction with the West Health, a senior healthcare watchdog organization, shows that 37% of the 65-plus segment of the population fear that they will not be able to pay for their health needs. The poll shows that 45% of older adults who are not quite old enough to be eligible for Medicare, those 50 to 64 years old, say they don’t think they can afford the cost of medical attention. “This puts nearly 50 million adults aged 50 and older at risk for more severe illness and even death due to the cost of healthcare,” the surveyors concluded, noting that many of them are coping by skipping much-needed medical treatment.
But it’s not just the cost of medical services that seniors- particularly those with fixed incomes- need to cope with. Inflation has caused them to ration even their most basic needs, such as food and housing. The inflation rate currently stands at 8.6%, but when President Biden took office in January 2021, he inherited a kinder, gentler inflation rate of just 1.4% from President Trump. It’s reached a 40-year high so far; if it gets much higher, we’ll be looking at inflation rates that haven’t been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The number of seniors who have had to return to work because they can’t survive on social security alone is on the rise, big time. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The only age group whose labor force participation rate is projected to rise are people age 75 and older, from 8.9 percent in 2020 to 11.7 percent by 2030…Among people age 75 years and older, the labor force is expected to grow by 96.5 percent over the next decade.” And that presents another problem for America’s seniors– taxation of their Social Security benefits.
A recent article on the Politico website noted, “Since 1984, Social Security recipients have become subject to tax on their benefits when they make more than $25,000 as individuals and $32,000 for couples…Now, government forecasters say surging inflation is pushing more people over those limits.”
In fact, the Congressional Budget Office says that the increase of Social Security recipients subject to taxation due to the jobs they have to take to stay above water is expected to increase by 10% this year and another 10% next year.
The Washington Post said in a recent inflation report that the bottom line is that among “more than a dozen retirees between the ages of 58 and 85 [who were interviewed], almost all said higher prices were forcing them to skimp on basics. They reported cutting back on meat and vegetables, driving less and trading in gym memberships for Jane Fonda workout videos. Many said they were buying cheaper shelf-stable foods such as pasta and canned beans at dollar stores and relying on chest freezers and food sealers to store away extras. All said they were living on significantly less money than when they were working, leaving them with a smaller cushion to guard against cost increases and unexpected medical emergencies.”
Blaming Mr. Biden for the runaway inflation Americans are facing may seem to be entirely politically motivated, but when a member of his own party, former Obama economic advisor Steve Rattner, is the one who’s blaming the president, it’s cause to listen up. The headline for a recent New York Times Opinion article he wrote put it succinctly: “Biden Keeps Blaming the Supply Chain for Inflation. That’s Dishonest.”
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