KIRKLAND, Wash. — Long-term care is getting a lot of exposure in the current health-reform discussions, but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet, according to Denise Gott, Chairman of the Board of LTC Financial Partners LLC (LTCFP) – http://www.ltcfp.com – one of the nation’s largest and most experienced long-term care insurance agencies. “Wait until the most-affected individuals get wind of what’s in store for them; all hell could break loose,” she says. And who are those individuals? The millions who succumb to longer-lasting illnesses and injuries, requiring help with eating, toileting, dressing or moving around?
“No,” says Gott. “It’s the women who end up caring for them. They’re the ones suddenly forced to provide 24/7 assistance to their husband, parent or other loved one who can’t function on their own anymore.” A majority of women will eventually need long-term care themselves, “but they tend to live longer than men, and social norms still consign females to the care giving role. So they’re the ones who have to sacrifice their futures when they’re still relatively young and fit, with years of productive, enjoyable life still to live.”
Long-term care insurance would free women from this forced care giving, since it provides funds for professional nursing home or in-home care, “but the vast majority of women have no long-term care buffer. No policy for their husband or mother or father, let alone for themselves.” Ordinary health insurance doesn’t cover long-term care, nor does Medicare. Medicaid does, but only for the less affluent who lack assets.
The media’s recent attention to long-term care centers around the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act of 2009, which would create a public insurance program for adults who become functionally disabled. “But the benefits would be less than half of those provided by a typical private policy, and they wouldn’t kick in for five years,” Gott says. “This could be better than nothing for lower-income people, but inadequate, in my opinion, for the middle class. Women would still be saddled with significant care giving chores.”
A better solution would be “significant new tax incentives to help people buy private LTC insurance on their own, tailored to their needs,” Gott attests. “Women should be screaming about this to their representatives in Congress. Their futures depend on it.”
Also, the talk shows should be talking it up, Gott says. “I’m surprised Oprah, The View, and 60 Minutes aren’t all over this.”
Forced care giving has an economic as well as lifestyle downside. “Household income dwindles whenever a woman has to give up her job for unpaid care duties,” says Gott. “Multiply that by the millions of women affected, and think of the drain on the economy. It extends into the billions.” Tax breaks for long-term care insurance, “would be a great federal investment, helping us pay for other aspects of health reform.”
More information: http://www.ltcfp.com .