Widespread worry of poor care

Nearly one of two Austrians fear being unable to finance appropriate old-age care for themselves.GfK Austria said today (Fri) 49 per cent of the polled citizens of all age groups said they are afraid of possessing too low assets to pay for good care in case they need it when they get older. The agency revealed that especially women and poorly educated people have such concerns.The research firm also found that 51 per cent of Austrians are of the opinion that high-quality care for elderly people can only be achieved within families. Seventy-five per cent of Austrians are of the opinion that only those who put money into private provision funds for their old age will be looked after properly in case of health problems after retirement.These figures come as the federal government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) is engaged in intense talks with representatives of the healthcare sector and Austria’s towns and communities on how to finance future generations’ demands for care in old age.SPÖ Social Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer recently explained he was in favour of establishing a fund to guarantee a high standard of services. The minister said he prefered a tax-financed system, but added that an insurance-based model would be an option worth considering as well. Hundstorfer added that the government would present its preferred model in late autumn of 2012.Experts have warned that the Austrian healthcare and social system could collapse if the issue is not sorted out soon.Studies reveal that, with 5.1 per cent, Austria is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member state with the highest share of people in care ahead of Switzerland and Norway with 3.9 per cent each.Research suggests that the cost of 24-hour care, retirement homes and home care alternatives will strongly increase in the coming years due to the fast ageing society.Another controversial aspect of the whole issue is that the majority of Austrians aged between 55 and 64 is in retirement. Only 41.8 per cent of members of this age group have a job – a staggering contrast compared to Sweden (70.5 per cent), Denmark (57.6 per cent), Great Britain (57.2 per cent) and Germany (57.1 per cent).