Chicago Tribune: The Demise of Long Term Care

Most seniors cannot afford to pay for long-term care on their own, and it is the nation’s middle class that can “fall through the cracks,” when it comes to long-term care, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday. As many seniors see insurance running out, experts advise saving sooner and planning for long term care at a young age, the article says.

“People buy insurance for their life because they know they are going to die, for their car because they know that can get in an accident and for their health because they know they can get sick, but people don’t tend to buy insurance because they think they are going to need someone to help them take a bath,” Phyllis Mitzen, co-program director of the Center for Long-Term Care Reform at the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group in Chicago told the Tribune.

In announcing the “demise” of long-term care, the article states, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius penned a letter to Senate leaders urging them to address the problem.


“By 2020, we know that an estimated 15 million Americans will need some kind of long-term care, and fewer than 3% have a long-term care policy,” she wrote. “These Americans are our family, our friends and our neighbors. If they are to live productive and independent lives, we need to make sure that they have access to the long-term care supports that make that possible.”

Costs to society are expected to skyrocket with more Americans with disabilities will rely on Medicaid once their assets are depleted, putting more pressure on federal and state budgets, the article says, with little relief in sight.

“People are forced into poverty,” Jonathan Lavin, president and CEO of AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, Illinois, told the Tribune. “We have people transferring assets so they can get into the Medicaid program. We’ve asked family caregivers more than anyone should really ask them to do. We’ve never sorted this out. It’s a major concern that … there aren’t enough resources available.”


Read the full Chicago Tribune article.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker