This week’s Last Week Tonight took a deep dive into the United States’ complicated system of long-term care for the elderly. Spoiler alert: We’re doing a terrible job of things, except when it comes to the wealthy, who are fine. As John Oliver explains, if you can afford it, you can look forward to spending your retirement surrounded by Italian marble and tacky designer plates. If you’re not rich, however, you just have to hope you don’t end up in the kind of facility that prescribes unnecessary treatments to defraud Medicare. Or throws residents out on the street in favor of people who can pay more. Or lets patients sit around in unchanged diapers all day. Or lets them get eaten alive by alligators. Seriously, it’s bad out there:
Increased regulation and enforcement seem like a good start toward addressing some of the problems Oliver identifies here, as does funding home and community-based care. It does seem like these sorts of abuses are inevitable as long as long-term care is run on a for-profit basis, however. If there were only some way to take money from people who can afford retirement homes with Versace plates, and redistribute it to ensure we all have access to some sort of minimal, not-getting-eaten-alive-by-alligators standard of living at the end of our lives! Well, it’s probably not worth looking into—there’s no way ignoring this now could come back to haunt any of us later in life.