North Carolina Seniors Must Choose Between Medical Care and Food

Medical bills are obstacles for all ages, but especially for older adults when health issues become more complicated, and medications more expensive.

Debt, due to health problems, arises for people who often can least afford it. Ill health means many older adults are forced out of work without an income and cannot protect their savings. Critics say that Medicaid offers help but is a complicated system to many trying to access it.

Watauga, NC, is a microcosm of a nation-wide problem. 21.2 percent of Wataugans live under the poverty level and feel the pressures of the health-care system. The Appalachian Healthcare Project (AHCP) claim that many Watauga residents must choose between medical care and food. And it's not restricted to those living at subsistence level.

“Thirty percent of our local population is uninsured,” AHCP’s community outreach director Alice Salthouse told the

“One in every five persons is below the poverty level in this area, as well. Then add that 65 percent of people are either overweight or obese, which lends itself to chronic disease, and it's almost like a perfect storm for people in need of health care,” she told the media source.

Local healthcare workers say that Medicaid is helpful but is complicated and not all low income people qualify. Medical costs are high and locals are often in debt.

“There is no way to fix the problem without policy changes,” Belcher told the media outlet. “We spend the most in the world in health-care dollars, but we rank about 28th in outcomes.”

Visit Front Line Health Care Workers at Home Care & Hospice Agencies.