Here in the UK as well as many other western lands, there is an ageing population. The United Kingdom prides itself on its free healthcare system, The National Health Service (NHS). When this system was founded in 1948 medicine was less sophisticated and people generally did not live as long.
With better healthcare and increased living standards, the demographics of the population has changed resulting in a larger percentage of older citizens. Many of these older ones require some assistance, either at home or within a care home.
NHS and the Taxpayer
Due to the National Health Service providing a free service it is often expected that this should be extended to any type of healthcare provider such as care homes and care at home (domiciliary care). The fact is the cost of care is very expensive to the British taxpayer and to offset this the UK Government has to find ways to reduce the cost.
The Government sets the rules for those who have to pay for their care and those that don’t. Much of the burden for the cost of care actually falls on local governments under their social services departments. The NHS picks up the cost when people need care at certain higher levels of medical need and either make a contribution or pay in full.
Care Financial Threshold
People that don’t qualify for free care and have enough money to pay for their own care will be expected to do so. If you have savings above £23,250 (2018/19) you will have to pay for your care until your funds drop to this level. For amounts between £14,250 and £23,250, you will have to make a contribution (£1 for every £250 per week) until your funds fall below £14,250. If you own a property the value will also be taken into account if you go into a care home, unless the home is occupied by a spouse or dependent child.
Many people do object to paying on the basis that they have worked hard and saved all their lives and begrudge that people who don’t have assets can get free care. Whilst this is true, those with money to pay for their own care may well be able to choose a better care home or the amount and type of care they receive. It will depend on how much over the threshold they have if having assets makes such a difference.
The reality, of course, is that care is very expensive and for the majority of people they will never be able to save sufficient funds to pay for long-term care should they require it and the only way to raise large amounts of money might be through the sale of their home. The amount of money being spent on care is set to rise and the government are continually reviewing how to make it fair and affordable for the UK population.
If you or a loved one need care, make sure that you seek advice to see what you are entitled to in free care and allowances towards the cost if you have to pay. The Age UK website is always a good place to start along with your local council, health authority and Citizens Advice Bureau.