March 23, 2023
Remote Work Didn’t Recede with Pandemic
The remote work necessitated by COVID may be here to stay in five English-speaking countries from Australia to the United States.
That’s the conclusion from a study of 250 million online job ads – nearly half of them in this country. The number of postings in January that offered remote work for one or more days per week was three to five times larger than the remote work positions advertised on the cusp of the pandemic in 2019. Notably, their numbers increased sharply last year as COVID was retreating.
The countries in the study are: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The United Kingdom has the largest share of positions advertising remote work – 18 percent. The United States and Australia each have 12 percent.
During the first two months of the pandemic, as businesses around the world shut down, remote work soared. That initial spike was followed by sustained growth throughout the pandemic.
“It has become clear that this shift will endure long after the initial forcing event,” the researchers said.
They identified fully or partially remote positions by working with a Boston data company that scraped government and private-employer websites, job boards, and job-vacancy aggregators like Indeed.com and Monster.com. They searched key words in the job ads including remote work, work from home, and home office.
All five countries experienced big increases in remote work, but the researchers said there is “a high degree of heterogeneity in remote work adoption” in the industries and companies where these flexible jobs are located. …Learn More
March 21, 2023
COVID’s Toll on Minorities with Disabilities
It’s been well documented that the COVID recession and layoffs in 2020 were particularly hard on Black, Hispanic, and Latino Americans. But if they had a disabling physical and medical condition, they felt it much more.
In a new study examining the cumulative impact of having a disability combined with the disadvantages of being an older minority worker or retiree, the racial disparities were apparent on a variety of fronts – in the inability to pay for essentials, at work, and through some difficulty obtaining medical care.
Past research has shown that once the pandemic hit, people with disabilities, who tend to have lower incomes, had an even tougher time financially than in the years prior to COVID. The racial aspect of these hardships was explored in this new research, as dramatized by the difficulty some Black, Hispanic, and Latino people with disabilities had paying their rent or mortgage.
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, paying for housing was a problem for about 13 percent of them. That was about four times the rate for Whites with disabilities and was also a much bigger issue than Blacks, Hispanics, or Latinos without disabilities faced.
Racial differences were also evident when people of color with disabilities tried to buy another essential: groceries. One in five said they couldn’t afford all the food they needed – roughly three times the rate for Whites with disabilities and about twice the rate for Hispanics, Latinos and Blacks without disabilities. …Learn More
March 16, 2023
Racial Disparities Exist in Long-term Care
The types of long-term care located in various communities are largely driven by what their oldest residents can afford. This has created stark differences in what’s available to White and minority retirees, a new study finds.
Assisted living facilities, despite the high cost, have been the fastest-growing part of the long-term care industry over the past 20 years. In the cities and suburbs, where the vast majority of Americans live, more of these facilities are located in predominantly White communities. Adult day care centers, at less than half the price of assisted living, have also expanded but are concentrated in communities of color.
The research also revealed that bank redlining has contributed to the racial disparities. Historic discrimination in mortgage lending has made it difficult for Black and Hispanic workers to accumulate the home equity they can use later to finance more comprehensive forms of long-term care. Government programs also play a role in what’s available: some states get waivers to use federal funds from the Supplemental Security Income program to subsidize adult day care for low-income retirees.
The essence of this study is the contrast in long-term care facilities in White versus minority communities at a time the industry is increasingly privatized – and expensive. The options that are available in each community reflect to a large extent their residents’ socioeconomic status.
The best example is assisted living facilities in which older people rent an apartment and receive assistance with their activities of daily living – dining service and help with a wheelchair or personal care like housekeeping, showering, and dressing – that don’t require a nurse’s care.
The number of assisted living facilities without nursing has more than doubled since 2000, to 26,800 nationwide, the researchers found. Older people who can afford to live in these residences, which are concentrated in White communities in more populated areas, enjoy a comfortable living standard that includes a smorgasbord of scheduled activities, without having to rely on their adult children to take care of them.
The racial disparity in long-term care is starkest when comparing these permanent residences with a much more affordable option concentrated in city neighborhoods of color: adult day care centers. The centers are often a better choice economically for minority retirees, who tend to have lower incomes and more debt than Whites. Day care costs around $20,300 per year, compared with about $54,000 for assisted living. …Learn More
March 14, 2023
Homelessness: Can You Pass this Quiz?
Do you know the main reason Americans slip into homelessness? Are you aware of the roots of this longstanding crisis?
The best way to counter negative views of homelessness is to develop a better understanding of why it exists and who it affects. The Urban Institute has put together a quick quiz to explore an issue that people with secure jobs and comfortable housing don’t think much about – and might prefer not to think about.
The federal government’s latest estimate of the homeless population makes clear that little progress has been made in reducing it, despite many communities’ efforts to address it. On a single night in January 2022, 582,462 people were homeless and either living on the streets or in homeless shelters or transitional housing. That includes more than 50,000 families.
The homeless population last year roughly matched the January 2020 count and is an increase from 567,715 in January 2019. The 2021 figure, experts agree, is unreliable because many communities curtailed their homeless counts during the surge in COVID cases, which may have actually increased the population.
A better understanding of homelessness is the first step to finding some solutions. Spend five minutes and learn something about the issue. Here’s the quiz. …Learn More
March 9, 2023
Post-COVID, View of Nursing Homes Erodes
COVID has moved from a central place in our lives to a risk that, while still important to heed, has moved out of the foreground.
One thing we will not forget, however, is COVID’s toll on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where the virus has killed more than 200,000 older Americans and staff. The tragedy also played out in nursing homes in Canada, where the deaths received high-profile coverage in the news media, just as they did in this country.
A survey of Canadians at the end of 2020, while COVID was still raging, indicates that the pandemic caused major changes in their thinking about old age. The reaction of a majority of people in their 50s and 60s to what they saw happening was to say they intend to avoid ever spending time in a nursing home, according to a summary of the survey by Canadian researchers.
It’s not hard to understand why so many deaths left such a lasting impression. What may be more surprising is the potentially big shift in what Canadians now believe should be done to address the situation.
More than two out of three Canadians surveyed said government could increase taxes to fund more government support for someone to come into retirees’ homes and help them with daily activities such as cooking, shopping, showering, and dressing.
But home care is an expensive proposition: the cost of one month in a nursing facility in Canada would buy only about two hours of home care per day. However, about one in four individuals said they would also take more responsibility themselves for preventing a nursing home stay by saving money to pay for their future home care. …Learn More
March 7, 2023
Social Security in Multigenerational Families
It’s not unusual for Black and Latino children to live with their grandparents, who are either the primary caregivers or members of a multigenerational family.
And just as the grandparent is integral to the family unit, so are the Social Security benefits the grandparent receives and contributes to the household. The poverty rates in families with children would be much higher without the income from Social Security, according to new research on Wisconsin families.
Nearly two-thirds of the study’s families in which a grandparent is a child’s primary caregiver rely on Social Security retirement benefits, disability benefits, or the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), which makes small cash payments to low-income retirees and the disabled.
Just under half of the three-generation households that include a grandparent get some income from Social Security.
The University of Wisconsin researchers confined their study to low-income families who are participating in state-run safety net programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, child support, and a caretaker supplement. They used state government data to draw a detailed picture of the grandparent families, whose income in 2019 ranged from about $33,000 when the grandparents are caregivers to $40,000 in multigenerational families. The families are more likely to be Black, Latino, and, in the case of three-generation families, Asian. The vast majority of the heads of household are women and frequently urban dwellers.
But the reason for the grandparents’ involvement and the importance of their financial support are different in each situation. Grandparents tend to be caregivers when the child’s parents are incarcerated, have substance abuse or mental health issues, or have died. These grandparents are a crucial, or the sole, source of financial support.
In three-generation households, they support the child’s parent or parents financially. But the working adults’ earnings are by far the most important source of family income. …Learn More
March 2, 2023
Advantage Plans Deny 6% of Treatments
Here’s something you should know about Medicare Advantage plans: the vast majority of these insurance policies require prior approval before a person can receive some medical treatments and services.
Historically, that was not the case, and prior authorizations are still very unusual for people who are enrolled in original Medicare and a Medigap supplement.
But in the case of Medicare Advantage plans, physicians submitted more than 35 million requests for prior authorization to insurers in 2021, and more than 2 million of them – or about 6 percent – were fully or partially denied, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s new report on more than 500 Advantage plans.
Only about 11 percent of the denials were appealed, but the vast majority of those appeals succeeded in getting a full or partial reversal of the original denial.
“The high frequency of favorable outcomes upon appeal raises questions about whether a larger share of initial determinations should have been approved,” Kaiser said. The American Medical Association reports that a third of physicians say the lengthy and difficult process of seeking a prior authorization from an insurance company caused “a serious adverse [medical] event in a patient.” …Learn More