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Long-term care costs exceed yearly income for many Calif. seniors living alone
Date:6/18/2009

In Los Angeles County, being disabled can cost a year's income. That's because the annual cost of in-home care services for seniors living alone is now $319 more than this group's median income of $17,029.

Combine long-term care expenses with other basic expenses, such as food and rent, and a Los Angeles senior living alone will need twice the median income to survive, according to new data released today by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

In all 58 California counties, long-term health care is far out of reach for the state's most vulnerable citizens: seniors living alone who are disabled. Yet even as costs soar, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed the elimination of Medi-Calfunded in-home supportive services for up to 400,000 seniors as a means of closing the state's budget gap.

"In all 58 counties, long-term care paired with basic living expenses exceeds median income," said Jenny Chung, attorney and program manager at the Insight Center. "Seniors can't afford care as it is. How are they going to cope with cuts?"

In 33 counties (57 percent of all California counties), the cost of long-term health care for elderly single women who are more likely than men to use long-term care exceeds the median income for single Californians aged 65 or older. In 38 counties (65.5 percent of all counties), the cost of long-term care combined with basic living expenses is at least two times the median income for this group. And in all 58 California counties, long-term care paired with basic living expenses far exceeds median income.

"When getting help at home costs a year's income, something's wrong," said Steven P. Wallace, associate director of the Center for Health Policy Research. "It means that extended families will be stretched thin to provide care or that the elderly will bankrupt themselves to pay for a service provider."

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Contact: Gwen Driscoll
gdrsicoll@ucla.edu
310-794-0930
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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