Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sometimes strange thoughts run through my head...

Today, I was thinking through an argument on health care, and out of nowhere, this question occured to me:

Are any of the Golden Girls still alive?

The answer, interestingly enough, is yes. They all are. Estelle Getty has Lewy Body Dementia, according to her website, but the other three all appear to be plugging along.

This is an excellent example of how improvements in health care have changed the way we need to view health care. One of the main premises of the Golden Girls, which debuted 21 years ago, was that all four of these women were elderly.

Every now and then I see Wilford Brimley on TV and think he must be older than dirt, after all, he's been playing an old guy since before I was born. Since I tend to forget things like "How old is Wilford Brimley?" I usually end up looking it up. In fact, I just did. He'll be 72 in September. That's not the case for the Golden Girls, three of which are in their 80's. But I digress.

Getting back to the previous thought: our seniors aren't just having Golden years anymore. They're having Golden years, Silver years, Bronze years, and depending on how well they saved for retirement, some of them are having some Tin years too. Medical science is prolonging their lives, but it's also exponentially raising their health care costs.

My point? Over the next 20 years, millions of seniors who never planned on living past 70 (including both my parents) will retire with life expectancies at or over 80, and without the financial wherewithal to foot the bill for the difference. If we don't solve our nation's health care problem in the next ten years, we'll spend the following 50 digging out of it.



Doug Halsted said...

Excellent post. Rising expectations is a point usually not brought up in arguments about healthcare.

Howie said...

I get amazaed every time I see Wilford Brimley on TV and go "he's still alive?"

But yeah, your arguments are excellent. Very valid points no one really thinks about.