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Some seniors say FutureCare is getting too expensive

A coming change in FutureCare premiums has angered some seniors, who say the programme is rapidly becoming too expensive.

The new rate structure, unveiled by Government last week, ends the existing two-tier system in which seniors paid different premiums for identical benefits based only on when they joined the programme.

Those enrolled in the second and third phases will see their monthly premiums fall by $195, and Government said those who cannot afford the premiums can apply to have FutureCare included as part of Financial Assistance benefits.

However those in the first phase said their premiums will increase for the fourth consecutive year.

One senior, who asked not to be named, said both she and her husband were automatically enrolled in the first phase of FutureCare when the programme began in 2009. Since then, they have seen premiums for the programme rise every year.

“It has jumped from $260 to $440, a 70 percent rise in four years, 17 percent a year,” she said. “How are we pensioners supposed to keep up with this when any pension increase is minimal? It is now more than one third of our pension.”

She also stated that they have to pay for part of the cost of doctors, dentists and prescriptions.

“It certainly stops me from going to the doctor unless I am really in need,” she said. “I only have a Government pension as I worked part time and was deemed not entitled to pay into a pension scheme with my employers, who were Government.

“I acknowledge that it was not really fair for the second phase to pay more, but to up our payments by so much is unfair.”

A 78-year-old man, who said he was also enrolled in the first phase of the programme, said he was upset about the rate increase for both himself and his wife.

“Prior to retirement we were both self-employed,” he said. “I get a Government pension of $526.17 a month, my wife has no pension. My premium is automatically deducted from my pension, therefore with the new rate (I still have to pay my wife’s premium) my pension is down to $86.17.

“We live on the money we have carefully saved all our lives and at the moment are looking at a mere 0.5 percent interest rate offered by the local banks.

“What was in their minds to deem it as in any way equitable to increase to the fullest those on the first tier, bring tier two all the way down — not part of the way — and then leave the HIPsters to go totally scot free? Cannot these rampant hikes take place over a few years instead of one?”

Another senior enrolled in the first phase said: “I live on my own and pay my own expenses. While I was in the working field I saved money for my future. My pension does not cover all of my expenses, I have to go into my savings to cover the remaining expenses for the month.

“I do not receive Government Financial Assistance. Many have been receiving FutureCare paid by Financial Assistance, prescriptions free, house rent paid, food allowance, electricity and telephone expenses paid monthly.

“Many receive a widow/widowers pension cheque and others a non-contributory pension to spend as they wish. Now, Government will be paying the increase of FutureCare for all on Financial Assistance. This is not fair.”

FutureCare: Seniors say it is consuming an ever-greater portion of their pension money

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Published April 08, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 08, 2013 at 12:40 am)

Some seniors say FutureCare is getting too expensive

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