Looming care crisis too big to avoid

For decades state and local governments have shied away from dealing with long-term care for seniors because of the eye-popping costs. But as boomers turn into seniors it’s becoming harder and harder to kick the can down the road – especially when that road ends at a cliff. So the issue is finally forcing itself onto the national agenda.

A key quote in a Fiscal Times article captures the conundrum that underlied federal and state unease over the issue.

Alice Rivlin, former Congressional Budget Office Director and expert on long-term elder care, told a House committee, “Responsibility for long-term service support is shared among seniors and people with disabilities themselves, family, friends, and volunteer caregivers; communities, state, and federal government.

“This shared-responsibility system is severely stressed, and will become increasingly unable to cope as the numbers needing care increase.”

She’s absolutely right. The current system isn’t sustainable. Government needs to show some leadership and take charge.

Approximately 12 million Americans are currently in need of long-term services and support and about 70 percent of people 65 and older will eventually need a high level of care at some point in their lives.

Although the Congressional Budget Office says that spending on long-term care for seniors will go from 1.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (as of 2010) to 3 percent by 2050, there is little indication that the insurance needed to cover that spending is within reach of the majority of Americans.

Another very real concern is that increasingly cash-strapped governments will step back and reduce Medicaid payments for long-term care even more than they have.  

If you’ve been putting off planning for long-term care, please get in touch. Taking care of it now goes a long way towards ensuring that you can pay for it later.

To read the entire Fiscal Times article, click here.