Financial impact

Every blogpost you could read so far was mainly on whether the elderly would accept technology or not for several reasons. But In this post I would like to discuss the financial impact. As I noticed in my first small “survey: elderly and technology” the financial aspect is often the major barrier to use technology. For smaller devices such as a mobile phone (you can find a simple model for something around 40 euros) these are not a big problem. Desktops are currently found for a reasonable price.
But there are many medical devices that the elderly simply can’t afford with their retirement. And even if they have a health insurance, there are often costs they have to pay by themselves. The cheapest or second hand electric wheelchairs costs around 1500-3000 Euro. For a more advanced or newer model, the price would increase to 5000- 10000 Euro.
Another example is the hearing aid. There are simple budget models that you can find for 500euro these models will be repayed by the health insurer (1). Then there are the basic models who have noise reduction,… . So how better the hearing aid (more technological improvements) how costlier. But today these instruments are often adapted to the customer. What is a great improvement compared to the basic models. It will cause less side effects and the hearing aid is more comfortable for the wearer. First they measure the ear by 3D scanning, then they make the adapted earpieces for each customer for instance with 3D printing (a company that make such pieces is Materialise (2))
The maximum coverage for a hearing aid for one ear is 629.92 euros (health insurance the CM (3)). We see that only the budget/basic model will be played back by the health insurance, but once you want to buy a high-tech model is at your own expense.
Other examples for high costs are: implants, robotic surgery, medication and so on.
Not to mention all the new technologies, home automation systems, robots, …
So maybe the elderly are eager to technology, but unfortunately not everyone can afford it. And especially all the new technologies that are invented are often the most expensive, because there are not a lot of competitors on the market because it is new (cell phones VS exoskeletons).
References:

(1)     http://www.hoortoestellen.info/info/soorten-hoortoestellen/60/prijs-van-hoortoestellen/

(2)    http://www.materialise.com/(3)   http://www.cm.be/nl/100/ziekteverzekering/terugbetalingen_varia/hoorapparaten.jsp

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2 Responses to Financial impact

  1. ingmarvaneylen says:

    I disagree to a certain extend. Normally when you begin to work, you also begin the safe up money. So if a normal working person can safe up to 500 euros a month and he work for 40 years, you have roughly 240 000 euro. This is a lot of money to begin your retirement with, so if you need a hearing aid for 700 euro, I think there is no such thing as a “fincancial barrier” to buy this. Even a more advanded aid for 10 000 euro is not really a problem if you look at my little calculation. Also you get still a monthly amount of money to life from (to buy food, clothes, etc…) and normally you will not have extra big expences like a house or a car to pay for. So in my opinion there will be no financial barrier… Or is there? What of the people who have to pay all there lives for healthcare and as they get older, the bill becomes bigger and bigger. For those people there is offcourse a (big) financial problem, but those people are (in Belgium) supported by the healthcare system of the goverment. So to conclude I dare to say that I do not really believe in this “financial barrier” but the reasons of no new technologies in the lives of the elderly have to be searched for elsewhere.

  2. karelvanderelst says:

    I also have to disagree on a certain level, however not for the same reasons as Ingmar. Most technology that can be considered to facilitate the lives of elderly on a medical level is readily available through insurances, health care or others, like the CM where you can lease or borrow a wheelchair with minimal charges. Yes, certain models and advanced options (like the hearing aids you mention) will not be available to elderly, but that doesn’t differ from the way certain people of all ages are denied access to expensive products.

    So in conclusion, while I disagree with Ingmar (Not everyone has a readily available trust fund, otherwise there wouldn’t be any poverty as long as people worked during their lifetime. There are plenty of elderly who have to make do with limited funds), I do believe the financial barrier isn’t more profound for the elderly consumer. There’s no denying there exists a divide between rich and poor, yet the elderly don’t necessarily suffer more from this lack of financial means than the younger generation.

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