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The paper presents a discussion on the danger to the beneficiaries of the social security act. Three sources are analyzed for their view about the act and how it is under threat. Millions of pensioners stand to have their benefit cuts. The ongoing presidential race in the US has seen presidential candidates sidestep this issue but they know that the issue of increased burden on health benefits will sink the fund in debt. All three articles refer to the consequences of the Social Security Act, which allows almost unlimited free public health care in intensive care units.
Brief information on the Social Security Act and Medicare
Diana (November 2007) has written about the current trends in the Social Security Act and what it provides. The Social Security Act has been amended a few times and in its current structure it supports the following initiatives:
- Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance
- Unemployment Insurance
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
- Health Insurance for Aged and Disabled (Medicare)
- Grants to States for Medical Assistance Programs (Medicaid)
- State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
Out of the initiatives, the Health Insurance for Aged and Disabled – Medicare, has caused problems for the whole Act. According to the act, members who have contributed to the pension fund for a few years are eligible for medical care until their demise. With the current increased availability of life-saving devices, the aged continue longer and this has added a burden to society, as some people perceive it.
Entitlements on the Brink: Office of Management and Budget
The article by the Office of Management and Budget, White House has presented the dangers that face the Social Security act. and they suggest that the Act is under the threat of collapsing from its own burden. The life expectancy of retired Americans has increased to about 72.1 years from the 60.1 years that were present when the act came into force. With the increase in the number of retired people, there is a real fiscal danger of the fund being drowned in deficit.
There are currently more than 39 million senior citizens who avail of the benefits and it is estimated that the total shortfall in Social Security and Medicare is about USD 18 Trillion. Employed workers are taxed to the extent of 12.4 % for social security and 2.8 % for Medicare and studies show that the inflow amount from taxes is not sufficient to balance the payments. The payments are done by heavy subsidies from the government and it is projected that by 2017, the huge burden of social security and other programs will become unmanageable, or put in simple terms, the government will not be able to pay out the money.
Attempts have been made by some administrators and presidents to tax the benefits or reduce the outflow of money, but this has been resisted by people (OMB 28 June 2007). Clearly, there is an intense burden on the healthy tax-paying public who resent that they have to pay so much money for very old people who need intensive care.
Preventing Ageism in Nursing Students
Beth Mary (Winter, 2007) has reported that with increased funds available from the Social Security Act, improved healthcare systems and technology, the life expectancy of senior citizens has considerably increased and this has given rise to a new kind of stereotyping called Ageism, for the old similar to racism and the discrimination and derogatory attitude shown toward African Americans and other race of deprived people.
This attitude is not only shown by the general public but also by nurses and the medical fraternity who regard old people as a burden and who enjoy social welfare benefits, at the expense of younger people who pay taxes. Ageism is a very malevolent form of attitude since older people do not have anywhere else to go and rely on healthcare professionals to meet their basic needs. Todd (2005) has suggested that in the US, elders are institutionalized, marginalized, and stripped of dignity, responsibility, and power, and were regarded as a burden by their children and the state. The author has suggested that ageism and the stereotyping and aloof attitude is present among nurses and senior nursing professionals.
Beth comments that these attitudes are inculcated right from their nursing college days and they continue even when the nurses attain seniority. Very little has been done by professional bodies and the nursing institutions to remove this bias and negative attitude and the author has suggested that measures should be taken and counseling provided to remove such harmful attitudes.
The Denial Of Death Thesis
Zimmermann (December 2007) has written about Death Denying, a new term that has been created by the Social Security Act. The authors suggest that death-denying is the process where the life of a critically ill patient is prolonged by placing them on life support systems. He has discussed the case of a few patients who could be classified as being in the ‘vegetative state’ where it was medical technology alone that ensured that the patients lived. The author has argued that in many clinics, specialty clinics, and other places, the aged are kept alive on complex life support systems and one of the reasons is that such services stand to earn a lot of money by prolonging the treatment.
Zimmermann has argued that there is a reluctance and reticence on the part of the healthcare community and society when it comes to palliative care or care for the dying. The author has argued that society has become a death-denying society where prolonging life becomes a test of the machines and technology that is bent on prolonging death. Death is no more regarded as a natural cause but a technological and clinical event and while instances of death in hospitals and institutions have risen, there has been a considerable decline in death at homes.
The author has argued that the death-denying society which includes pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals with specialized training, has increased the lifespan of human beings. Zimmermann has suggested that the death-denying society has created an ‘atmosphere of denial’ where information is withheld from patients and their real condition is not revealed. Society creates a veil of silence and does not reveal such information to patients who want to know the truth about their health.
The author has cited the works of some eminent authors and calls this masquerade the ‘pornography of death. The research pointed out that while explicit pornography is freely discussed, prudery is practiced while discussing natural death. The death-denying society, has turned death into a mere medicalization practice and the funeral practices, display of grief, and mourning has become detached and the survivors have become bystanders since there is a taboo on discussing death.
The paper has examined the negative effects that have been created by the Social Security act. Three sources have been analyzed and the first speaks of the cost burden that is in excess of 18 Trillion USD. The second article discussed Ageism, which is the discrimination against the aged, by nurses who resent that old people get treatment. The third discusses the term of Death Denying, where terminally ill patients are kept on life support systems and important information about the patients is withheld so that clinics can make money out of the Social Security Act.
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Beth Mary (2007), ‘Preventing Ageism in Nursing Students: An Action Theory Approach’, Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp. 8-14.
Diana M., Barry Linda K. (2007). Social Welfare: Politics and Public Policy. Seventh Edition. Allyn & Bacon: New York. ISBN-13: 978-0-205-37599-8.
OMB (2007), ‘Entitlements on the Brink: Office of Management and Budget’. Web.
Zimmermann Camilla, Rodin Gary (2007), ‘The denial of death thesis: sociological critique and implications for palliative care’, Journal of Palliative Medicine, Volume 18, pp: 121-128.