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The Life Transition Blog

Why Is Long Term Care Absent From The Healthcare Debate?


As the healthcare debate rages in Washington and around the country, it seems as though a big piece is missing -- long term care. How can we fully fix the problem of paying for health care if we ignore the reality that even those who have medical insurance coverage often don't have the means to provide long term care for themselves?

Most families don't realize that commercial health insurance and Medicare don't cover much in the way of long term care. These plans get you through the acute medical situation, such as a surgery or hospitalization, but fall short when what you really need is assistance with bathing, dressing, or moving from place to place. Health plans will also cover you for the medical care associated with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, but not for the personal care often needed by patients with these disorders. Long term care insurance policies are available, and for those who can afford them, they are often a very important part of end-of-life planning.

In fact, the late Ted Kennedy realized that some form of long term care assistance was a key to meaningful health care reform, and is included in the bill that Kennedy's committee wrote as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (the CLASS Act). This Act would allow us to buy long term care insurance from the government which would provide a cash benefit when care was indicated. While this Act wouldn't solve the whole long term care issue, it would be a start and at least provide affordable baseline coverage for all Americans who want it.

While I have your attention, have YOU and YOUR FAMILY thought about how you will manage the caregiving puzzle?
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