Facing increases to housing and medical costs on a fixed income

My husband and I moved to Utah from San Diego years ago because our grandchildren were here and we wanted to help raise them. We chose our manufactured home community because we didn’t want to move into a big house again or rent a condo or an apartment.  We like that this is a 55+ community, it’s ideal for us. There is real a lack of senior communities in Salt Lake City where seniors can own their own home, live all on one level, have outdoor space, and still be in a space with other seniors. We were happy to find this place. I think communities like this are very important to develop because it gives senior citizens a safe place to live at a more reasonable price.

Living here has been fairly easy over the years as compared to living in a big house. Now, we’re moving again because we’ve reached the point where this has become too big and it’s too much for us to take care of. This has been a wonderful place to live. Our community has been pretty stable over the years. I was active in the homeowners’ association for several years. It’s a close community and I have a lot of support here from my neighbors.

Our lot rents increase by $18/month every year. It’s going to happen so you have to adjust and plan for it.  It has been affordable for us, but I can see in the future that it would have become more and more difficult for me, especially if I end up on my own in the future. I don’t receive social security nor will I receive widow’s benefits. My husband does, however increases are few and far between and extremely low. I receive a COLA from the University where I worked, but the rent increase eats that up every year.

While everything has been ok for my husband and I so far, it’s terrifying to have a limited income and know there is nothing you can do to increase it. I’ve looked around for a part time job to bring in a little more income, but at 80 years old no one wants to hire me. Fortunately, we have some funds saved, but it’s hard to see your funds decrease every year and know there is no extra income coming in while costs are always going up. You put that money aside your whole life thinking your kids will receive some of it; it’s discouraging. It also takes away from our emotional well being. It’s always in the back of your mind. At our age, we shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of stress.

I am on Medicare and I’m grateful for the coverage, but even those premiums are going up fast.  When I first started receiving benefits my premiums were $325 every three months, they are now up to $402. This year they jumped by $40 a quarter. Its ok for us now with the two incomes, but it won’t be in the future if it’s just me. I think “my god are they going to keep raising it 40 dollars a quarter each year?”. I know increases are inevitable, but this last one was a lot to absorb. Right now, my COLA keeps up with rent increases, but it won’t cover other increases that are coming in housing, healthcare, other living expenses, it won’t be enough.

I know some of my neighbors have to rely on other public programs, like food stamps or Medicaid. Some of the senior citizens in here have very limited incomes, so the cuts to these programs are very hard because they don’t have any way of supplementing their income.

I’m terrified for people who are on Medicaid, I’m worried about the changes politicians are proposing. Last time my husband was in the hospital the bill before insurance was 162 thousand dollars, just for that one time, and he has been in multiple times. As an older citizen getting sicker, it’s terrifying not knowing what they are going to do with Medicare and Medicaid.

Everything they are debating in Congress is super-secret right now, which is not right. It’s terrible that all of this is not out in the open. We deserve to know what they are planning to do with our nation’s healthcare. It effects too many people to do it in secret, people not knowing what is going on with ACA and not knowing how they are going to pay for coverage, I see how that’s terrifying for people. I think the reason it’s not in the open is because they know about the opposition and what hell would be raised if they cut our Medicare benefits. I don’t know what we’d do frankly because my husband is facing major health expenses.

It’s outrageous that Utah didn’t expand Medicaid when we had the opportunity, that we turned down all that funding, it didn’t make any sense. The Legislature is too focused on not providing programs.

Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. Some people don’t have the capacity to do more, some people were not able to save as much, and we can’t just ignore their needs. So, some of us have to pay more in taxes to support them, my god we’re human beings we should support each other. Other countries do it, why shouldn’t we? We are a bigger country in terms of population and surely we can afford to do something more than we are doing now. I don’t understand why providing for people’s needs has been such a no-no. That’s the problem, the politicians who are against these programs don’t tell us why we shouldn’t have them, they don’t give us the details on what the cost would be for the average tax payer. They don’t give us the chance to decide whether it is worth it to us as a country to provide for people who need support, they just say it won’t work. We’re supposed to be a smart country, we deserve to make that decision and decide for ourselves what we are prioritizing as a nation.