Olen: Paying for long-term care – Opinion – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA
When Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Spoke about Medicare for All during the Democratic Presidential Debate on July 30, he explained how it would improve coverage for those who currently receive it. “For seniors, this will finally include dental care, hearing aids and glasses,” he said.
But Sanders forgot to mention that it would also help seniors pay for long-term care, which Medicare is not doing now.
Sanders shouldn’t forget that anymore. Indeed, he should make long term care the first thing he mentions when he talks about how Medicare for All would help seniors. Add that it is particularly useful for women. There is probably no better way to counter fear-mongering rhetoric designed to convince the elderly that adopting a significant Medicare expansion would result in less care – I’m looking at you, Joe Biden – than by highlighting how its plan would improve the thing that seniors probably fear the most.
For anyone over 40, pronouncing the expression “long-term care” is tantamount to broaching the subject of Babadook. According to the latest annual poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about two-thirds of Americans over 40 say they expect to have to help a close family member or friend in the past. over the next five years. Almost half believe they cannot finance their own long-term care. Over 60 percent of this cohort expect to need some form of long-term care in the future, which is slightly lower than the actual number of 69 percent.
The problem: Medicare does not offer long-term help for people who need help with tasks such as showering and dressing and other tasks of daily living, either due to chronic illness, physical frailty, or something like dementia. This is a twofold problem: First, most people want to stay in their homes as they age if they can, which long term care can make possible. Second, it also allows many to avoid more expensive institutional care – which, for the most part, is not covered by Medicare. (This is also true, of course, for private and employer-sponsored health insurance used by people under 65.)
As a result, seniors are forced to depend on family and friends or spend their assets until they are eligible for Medicaid. Unsurprisingly, the AP-NORC poll found that adding long-term care to Medicare enjoys broad popular support, including with a majority of Republicans.
By the way, private long term care insurance is not the answer. Many insurers no longer offer this option because the payments exceeded their estimates. The policies that remain are increasingly expensive – sudden rate hikes of 75 percent are not unheard of – and financially out of reach for many.
Alex Lawson, the executive director of Social Security Works, told me he thinks Sanders was less likely to bring up long-term health care because it wasn’t included in previous Medicare for everyone bills. . It’s not like Sanders isn’t talking about long-term care at all. He mentioned it, for example, at the AARP Presidential Forum in Iowa last month – after dental care, hearing aids, and vision coverage, things that are currently covered by many Medicare Advantage plans. .
But he should talk more about it. Seniors support Medicare-for-all at slightly lower rates than most other age cohorts. It is possible that a greater awareness of how it would help them with long-term care could influence some of them. It could also give Sanders much needed help for middle-aged and older female voters. Women are more likely to need long-term care in old age, and daughters provide twice as much help to elderly parents as sons. In fact, women are responsible for the majority of all unpaid elder care and as a result they suffer considerable damage to their career prospects and income.
This advice also applies to any candidate who supports Medicare-for-all or other plans that would offer help. Beto O’Rourke, for example, says he supports Medicare for America, a House-sponsored expansion plan by Reps Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., And Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. It also strengthens long-term Medicare coverage. Talk it over ! One plan that wouldn’t help as much as it sounds: Biden’s $ 5,000 tax credit for those providing unreimbursed senior care. If a woman leaves the workforce to take on senior care responsibilities, she can expect to lose over $ 300,000 in earnings in her lifetime.
It’s not like Sanders’ long-term care proposal is perfect. It could be better – the Medicare-for-all Supplementary House Bill, sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Also provides coverage for nursing home care, which the bill lacks by Sanders. But it is still much more than the current status quo. So go ahead, candidates. Start talking about what you can do to help us all with long term care. It’s personal. This middle aged girl is waiting.
Helaine Olen is a contributor to The Washington Post Opinions and the author of “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry”.