Only Eight Million US Adults Have Long-Term Care Insurance.

The New York Times (10/28, Span, Subscription
Publication) reported in “The New Old Age” blog that “only eight
million adults” in the US “have long-term care insurance, a product
that has proven unattractive to most consumers and unprofitable for some major
insurance companies, who are leaving the field.” In the near future, the
Internal Revenue Service will “allow slightly higher tax deductions in
2012 for the smattering of people who have bought private long-term care
policies.” Now that the CLASS Act appears to have met its demise,
“our graying country needs some way to help families with an expense that
two-thirds of older adults will incur,” the blog entry concluded.

The AP (10/30) concurred, pointing out, “The
dilemma of paying for long-term care is likely to worsen now that the Obama
administration pulled the plug on a program seen as a first step.”
Currently, “nursing home charges can run more than $200 a day and a home
health aide averages $450 a week, usually part-time. Yet Medicare doesn’t cover
long-term care, and only about three percent of adults have a private
policy.” The AP added, “For those who do need extended nursing home
care, Medicaid has become the default provider, since Medicare only covers
short-term stays for rehab. But Medicaid is for low-income people, so the
disabled literally have to impoverish themselves to qualify, a wrenching
experience for families.”
Association CEO: “If Not CLASS, Then What?”
In an opinion piece
in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (10/31), Gayle
Kvenvold, president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota, a trade association
representing long-term care providers, writes that in wake of “the demise
of the CLASS Act” brings up “an urgent question that no one seems
able to answer: If not CLASS, then what? The question of how we as consumers
will share more responsibility for our own long-term care must be
addressed.” In Minnesota, Kvenvold calls for reshaping the state’s
“Medical Assistance program. Rather than a system that encourages
‘spending down’ to qualify for public subsidy, we should evolve to a system
that empowers and rewards people who take greater responsibility, and therefore
greater control, over their own long-term care.”


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