No Health Insurance One Reason for Shortage of Workers

There is already a shortage of home health aide workers now and the increasing demand as Baby Boomers age is going to put a lot of older people in a predicament.  Home health aides help take care of those at home who need assistance with anything from bathing to feeding to work around the house.  Unfortunately though, their pay is not high and their jobs don’t offer health insurance plans or retirement plans.  Many home health aides also have to pay for their own gas and transportation to and from appointments.  This really adds up because they can see many patients each day depending on the type of care they are giving.  They don’t see any way they can compare individual health insurance or retirement plans on their low paychecks.  These factors are making it difficult to find home health aide workers.

John Seewer of the Associated Press talks about what is going on in the home health care industry in the article “Aging baby boomers face home health challenge.”  Home health aides allow older people to live at home much longer than they would be able to without this kind of help.  Many baby boomers live alone and could not function without these home health aides.  States save money when people are at home longer because Medicaid and Medicare payments for nursing home care are sky high compared to what is paid for a few hours a day of care at home.  But home health care workers are feeling a pinch when it comes to their pay and this is likely to cause big problems in the upcoming years.

Home health care aides are the fastest growing profession in the United States.  There will be 1.3 million job openings over the next ten years and if those don’t get filled, many baby boomers will be forced to live with family members or prematurely go into nursing homes when they could have lived at home longer with some assistance.  So what is holding people back from filling these jobs?  Their median pay is only $9.70 per hour and with no health insurance, retirement, or vacation it is a tough sell for some unemployed.  The majority of home health aides have second jobs and many are also on government assistance.  The article points out that these aides tend to like their jobs because of the joy they bring to their patients and the flexible hours, but worry that they cannot pay their bills.  Home health agencies worry about attracting workers over the next decade when they are hardly making a profit already.

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