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Every non-profit or academic institution focused on aging in America (e.g. AARP, Older Women’s League, American Society on Aging, etc.) supports the American Care Act. It’s great news that the Supreme Court ruled the law was constitutional. With this ruling, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage, or charge more because of a pre-existing condition, or force women to pay higher premiums than men. Preventive care will continue to be covered at no cost, and seniors will continue to save money on prescription drugs (5.3 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries have already saved $3.7 billion on prescriptions since the law was enacted).

The ACA is a major step toward ensuring affordable and quality health coverage for millions of working families, elders, and children. Therefore, it is surprising to me that many Americans don’t believe the ACA will help them. A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that people believe young adults and children are likely to benefit from the new law, but not themselves or their families. Thirty-seven percent of respondents felt the law will make no difference in their lives, thirty-one percent felt they will be worse off.

Where are these answers coming from? Is it that a case being brought to the Supreme Court is enough to reduced people’s opinions of the law? Who are the individuals against the ACA…do they understand the implications for American’s health system and the American people’s well-being?

The ACA is in no way perfect, but many of the laws are designed specifically to help older people acquire and pay for comprehensive health care. An AARP article lists the number of ways the law supports older adults:

  • Insurance companies cannot drop you if you become sick or disabled
  • They cannot have lifetime dollar limits on your coverage
  • Medicare recipients receive annual wellness visits, preventive services, and immunizations at no additional cost
  • As mentioned, people with Medicare Part D now receive discounts on prescription drugs while in the doughnut hole. The Part D discounts will gradually increase until 2020, when the doughnut hole will close
  • In 2014, insurers can no longer deny coverage if you have a preexisting condition
  • In 2014, insurance “exchanges” will provide better access and options to self-employed people, small businesses and others who are unable to find affordable coverage

The Supreme Court’s decision is a significant move in the right direction. It will help the United States build a health care plan for our future that is on par with what other developed nations provide already: Affordable health care coverage as a right, not a privilege.

I am very interested in the consequences of population decline, especially with regard to economic costs toward the society. I know that Germany, Italy, and Japan all have currently declining populations and are trying to figure out their futures. Currently the U.S. has a stable fertility rate of 2.1, which is the exact number needed for the population to keep “replacing” itself. But what if rate dropped even slightly, like in other countries, here in the United States? What would happen to our economy, our savings and retirement, social security, would it all be greatly affected?

I found a small article written for the MIT paper “What Matters.” Titled, “The economic effect of population decline: a subject for study,” by David L. Wiesen, it goes on to explain a little about the current situation. Shockingly he tells us little research is being done on U.S. population decline. He poses a lot of questions that I wish were answered or at least being researched. It seems like it is a possible problem no one wants to think about. We are having plenty of issues with medical care, social security, the aged dependency ratio (the number of older adults/the number of working adults) and the small incoming work force that will replace the retiring boomers; few want to consider the huge problems that could arise if the population began to decline. Yet, it would be comforting if at least some research was conducted on the topic. We do need to have ideas and policy options in place if such an event occurred.

He asks questions about the effects on employment, the impact on markets and products, how an increase in the individual levels of consumption could possibly negate the effects? This is certainly interesting to think about and he goes on to propose that it might not be such a bad thing. He states that any one country could survive so long as other parts of the world were growing. Also, he asks if the system would be more efficient with fewer individuals. However, free-markets are in need of growing populations and the question arises about their well-being, especially in our current economy.

My research on this question got me a lot more questions to think about then answers to review. It seems for one thing, opinions are all you can really find on the matter, since the only real population decline of a capitalist society were the distressing effects of the Bubonic Plague and the majority of their society was still evolving from feudalism. This was also a very quick decline that involved people of all age groups. The impact was dramatic and devastating, would it be so for us?

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