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Senior Care - Myths, Misconceptions and Answers Part 3: Free Health Care....Think Again!

Updated: Jan 27, 2019

Here at Senior Care Connect we pride ourselves on working towards educating the community so that they can plan appropriately for their care and that of loved ones. Too often we see families who have been misinformed , having expectations of our health care system, which can no longer be met.   So let's address one of the biggest misconceptions out there!  In Canada, we have free health care, so when I no longer can manage, there are resources to take care of all my needs. Now although we definitely have a better health care system than some countries, the statement above is not exactly true Let's look at some facts: 

  • Seniors now outnumber children in Canada for the first time (1)

  • “Ontario’s population of people aged 75 and up is expected to grow by almost 30% between 2012 and 2021, creating additional pressures to meet the needs of people who require long-term care"(2)

  • “Many of the very old lose their ability to live independently because of limited mobility, frailty or other physical or mental health problems. Many require long-term care, including home-based nursing, community, residential and hospital-based care”(3)

With an increasing senior population, and the various potential health concerns during those elder years, there is then a higher demand and need for health care services.

Available Resources:  Now lets take a look at our available government funded(OHIP funded) resources.

  • Long Term- Care(LTC):  Increasingly long wait times to access  LTC- if needed. “The number of people across the province waiting for an LTC home bed increased by almost 85% between March 2005 and March 2012....while the number of LTC home beds increased by about 3%.”  (4)

  • Home Care: There also continues to be wait lists in Ontario to receive various home care services (5)

Given the aging population and such limited access to government funded care options, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care recommends that alternative care options are critical (6)

Funding for Resources and Care:

As stated at the beginning of this article many people still view our health care as free. There is nothing in life that is free, it is only a matter of who or where the money is coming from. In the case of our health care system the money actually comes... from us. Our tax dollars are  what funds our health care services.

 This is significant to note for 2 reasons: 1) As our population is aging; more people are exiting the work force, thus less income put towards taxes 2) As such we are left with a smaller population(current working age population) contributing to taxes

Thus we are in need of more funds to support our aging population's care, but we now have a smaller pool of people who are able to largely contribute (via taxes) towards funding this needed care .

What Does This All Mean?

High demand/need for care + Limited Available Resources = Potential Crisis 

The unfortunate but realistic outlook is that our health care system will likely not be able to manage and address all of our chronic health care needs. Our system of course does have some offerings in terms of more active medical needs. If we look at the more practical needs of our aging population  however(such as those living alone/isolation, assistance with personal care, meal preparation,shopping/groceries,cleaning, walking,etc) we will likely need to pull from other avenues in order to have such needs addressed. Why is this information important you ask? By knowing the limited resources available via home care or LTC, it is vital that we all plan in advance to explore alternative care options, and how to access such options. Outside of OHIP funded care, other alternatives do come at a cost, and as such we need to plan ahead both financially, as well as practically with family, in terms of how to support one another in our elder years.   SCC has encountered on too many occasions the mentality that OHIP funded care will and should provide all the care that is needed. Unfortunately this is simply not the case at the current time. As families have had such an expectation, alternative options in terms of family support, as well as financial planning for such care, were not explored in the detail they likely needed to be.  Of course, we must acknowledge that there are those that, due to limited social supports as well as financial means, are more limited then others in their ability to pursue alternative options for care. Such circumstances are unfortunate and will require more creative means of care planning. Nonetheless we all need to be as prepared as possible and plan within our individual scenarios. Be prepared. Plan ahead. Be aware of what our health care system CAN and CANNOT offer, to help ensure that we are able to live the highest quality of life possible as we all age.  As always, if needing guidance in exploring alternative care options, you can always contact us.

Until Next Time.... Stay In The Know! Stay Informed!

________________________________________________________________________ 1. 2.2012 Auditor General Report  on LTC:  3 . 4. 2012 Auditor General Report on LTC-p 191: 5 . 6.  (p.187)
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