A few days ago, my 101 year-old mother fell in her apartment at her assisted living facility. She fractured her dominant arm just above her elbow. Her doctors decided that it was too risky to fix the fracture under general anesthesia (covered by Medicare). They sent her home with a cast which is less effective, but less dangerous.
She is now quite comfortable. But she requires constant companion care, because she cannot use her walker nor perform routine daily tasks. Minimum non-nursing care costs around $5000 a week– $15,000 until she sees the orthopedic surgeon again. This cost is not covered by Medicare nor included in “assisted” living.
The calculation of risks to the patient was humane and reasonable; the savings to the health care system, impressive. However, the burden of costs suddenly shifted from the institution to the family. My husband and I must shoulder those bills, in addition to the $55,000 we already pay annually for her assisted living. We have been retired for thirteen years, after educating our two children and assembling a tidy nest-egg for our golden years. It now appears that our calculations were completely inadequate.