Long-Term Care: Options In An Era Of Health Reform

Source: Joshua M. Wiener, SCAN Foundation, April 2009

As President Barack Obama and Congress debate health care reform, it is important that long-term care be included. While not central to providing basic health insurance to all Americans, long-term care should be part of efforts to improve health care for all Americans. Contrary to widespread belief that long-term care affects only a small minority of the population, 69 percent of people turning age 65 will need long-term care before they die and a third of the population will spend some time in a nursing home. In thinking about the place of long-term care in the health reform debate, four factors are important:
– First, with the aging of the population, the number of older people with disabilities is sure to grow
substantially.
– Second, the federal and state governments spend substantial amounts of money on long-term care.
– Third, not only do older people and younger persons with disabilities use expensive long-term care services, they have high acute care expenses related to their underlying chronic diseases.
– Fourth, the current long-term care financing and delivery system is broken.

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