Baby boomers are inspiring creative opportunities in a number of sectors. Couple that with the fact that we’re living longer – and healthier, and it becomes clear that new solutions are needed to ensure retirement is exactly what it was intended to be: enjoying the fruits of years of hard work and sacrifices. Now, there are even more solutions that can further secure those futures – and they’re closer than you might think. The technology is impressive but will Medicaid approval follow?
The Technological Breakthroughs
With rising health costs that have not only the U.S., but a global society concerned, a number of companies are looking for ways to meet a number of challenges today’s seniors face. For instance, at least two companies are developing bionic suits that have the potential to save money while also keeping the elderly independent.
One Japanese company, Cyberdyne Inc., is already prepared and planning to release its products once they get it through the proper legal and political channels. Its motivation, of course, is to beat other companies, including the U.S. to the punch. “The demand for rehabilitation robots is very high as societies around the world are aging,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. in Tokyo, who says he is considering buying Cyberdyne shares.
Wondering what a rehabilitation robot is?
Testing is Promising
In an impressive and dramatic presentation, a 55 year old paraplegic donned a Cyberdyne “suit” and successfully took a few steps. Already, the suit has gained clearance for use as a medical device in Europe and the goal is to transition it to the U.S. soon. The possibilities are endless as this is a wide open and new area of elder care products.
There are challenges, though. Aside from gaining FDA approval, which is mandatory if it’s to become an accepted Medicare or Medicaid medical device, there are the issues surrounding the costs of manufacturing. They’re staggering – Currently, it’s close to $18,000 to just lease it each month. The manufacturer says it’s looking for ways to bring the costs down so that they’re affordable for home use. In some ways, Japan’s healthcare insurance sector mirrors the struggles many Americans face. “The current insurance system will collapse if cost to care for elderly people continues to rise,” said Hirohisa Hirukawa, director of the Intelligent System Research unit at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. “Japan needs to change rules, find equipment to save labor, and to care for elderly people more efficiently.”
Meanwhile, a Cleveland based company, Parker Engineering, has its own version of a geoskeletal suit, Indego®. It won a 2013 POPULAR MECHANICS Breakthrough Innovator Award, which recognizes innovators whose work will make the world smarter, safer, and more efficient. If this – and other medical devices – gains approval by FDA and then Medicaid and Medicare, it could be a life changing reality for seniors.
Bottom line: the potential benefits of this and other new technological advances can provide a significant route for those who otherwise might have lost their mobility years ago.
If you have any questions about the role Medicare and Medicaid might play as the new technology develops or if you need guidance in moving forward in the Medicaid qualification process in Essex Junction, we invite you to contact us to discuss your options. Not only do we help clients secure medical coverage, but we also can answer any questions you might have in your collective estate planning process. Give us a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation.