what do the working poor do when they get sick or retire

What happens to the working poor (those who didn’t contribute much to social security, have no pensions and no real investments) when they get a serious illness or retire. Im assuming with retirement they move in with children or something along those lines. But what about a serious chronic illness? i dont know if they just die slowly from lack of medical treatment but that may be the case. is it?

The working poor don’t get to retire. They work until the day they die.

If they do get seriously ill, they file for disability and wait 2 or 3 years before they get on it. Until then they will probably be able to get a medical card, but you can’t work at all when you have a disability claim in the system so I assume they are supported financially by relatives and/or friends. Any savings they would have would be burned up quickly.

At the age of 67 they can retire, with a minimum pension of about 100 000 Norwegian crowns a year. (That’s 14 900 US dollar.) That’s not much - you can scrape by on it, more or less, but that’s it.

Medical treatment is mostly free - some things are completely free (such as anything related to pre-natal care, birth, abortion, and kids younger than 7), for most things the patient pays part of it. Noone’s supposed to have to pay more than 4 500 NOK per year ($670) for medical expenses. The system doesn’t work quite as advertised - when I broke my elbow the operation was free, but when the wound got infected I had to pay for all the antibiotics myself, and that cost twice the supposed maximum amount. (No idea why - maybe, if I’d made a fuss about it, I might have gotten the money back.)

(More details, pdf.)

Oh, wait, you weren’t asking about Norway, were you? :smiley:

I live in an area with a very low economic base. Lots of “working poor” around here, some in my own family.

People can and do live off social security when they get old. Granted, it’s not fun, but you can do it. It’s not uncommon to see elderly people who own a modest home that they purchased while they were working live modestly off of social security.

Serious illness or just old age: Medicare covers you if you’re retired, so you have some help there. It also covers you if you need to move into a assisted living type of place. Maybe not the best, nicest place, but more or less OK.

For those people who just need a little help, there’s a retirement place here in town that consists of apartments available to people 55 and older. The offer some assistance, such as meals deliverd. Overall, it reminds me of a college dorm; people leave their doors open, play cards in the rec room, have weekly or daily prayer meetings, etc. Rent there is on a sliding scale; you pay what you can afford. My grandmother lives there, it’s not luxurious but it’s plenty nice.

Overall, it’s not quite as bad as you might think to be “working poor.” You do get some medical coverage, and it’s possible to live OK on Social Security.

Around here, Northern MN, the county owns several nursing homes which provide long-term care to the poor. There are also apartments of the type described by Athena.

St. Urho
I’ve been to Felch, too…

Moderator’s Notes:
I’m not quite sure what to do with this thread, but it doesn’t belong in MPISMS, that I do know. I guess, given the arguable nature of any answer that’s likely to be provided, that I’ll shuffle it off to GD.

A lot of communities have government-funded clinics, where the indigent can receive health care either free or at greatly reduced cost. In some cases you have to qualify for a medical card, in some places you don’t. You won’t be seen by specialists who graduated top of their class from Johns Hopkins, but you will have access to basic medical care, and have a primary care provider other than the ER.

The hospital where Dr.J works is part of such a system. All of the residents have what they call continuity clinic–their own population of patients for whom they’re the primary care doctor. They each have one half-day a week when they schedule patients. These limited appointments tend to book up about a month or so in advance, so they tend to be for monitoring chronic stuff instead of acute care. There’s also an acute care clinic, for problems that aren’t going to wait a month till there’s an opening in the continuity clinic. Every resident spends a couple of months a year doing acute care clinic, so you might even get to see your regular doctor if your illness times itself right.

The county also runs a pharmacy where you can get your prescriptions filled at a greatly discounted rate. This is a godsend for people who need expensive stuff every month, have no insurance, and make just a hair too much to qualify for a medical card.