Consumer group Which? has released a report on who gets social care for free in the UK and why.
Turns out it's largely to do with your postcode: vulnerable people can be up to 25 times less likely to get their costs covered, if they live in an area with high 'efficiency' targets – in other words, an area that's been told not to spend much money on health.
What it means: Organisations called 'Clinical Commissioning Groups' are responsible for planning and commissioning healthcare in their local areas. Across the UK, they're expected to be spending £855 million less than they do right now, under targets imposed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Social care patients are, in part, paying the price. People who have complex medical conditions can apply to get the cost of care funded by the NHS, but it's dependent on where they live (not what they can afford, for example). That leads to some serious inequalities across local areas: people in Stockport are seven times less likely to get funding than those in Ilford, and people in Richmond are three times more likely than those in Ealing.
People are getting charged 'surprise bills' of up to £100,000, for care they thought the NHS covered, because they live in an area with low support. Older people are resorting to selling their homes to pay the price (if they've got a home to sell, that is.)