The Collaborative was able to agree to five key recommendations in three key areas. This final set of recommendations focused significantly on: 1) A need for universal catastrophic insurance; 2) Private market initiatives and public policies to revitalize the insurance market to help address non-catastrophic LTSS risk; and 3) Enhanced Medicaid LTSS for those with lower lifetime incomes.
The Collaborative calls for a strong government role in the solution. The group considered voluntary and universal insurance programs and came to the conclusion that universal was the only viable, long-term solution as it spread the risk across the entire population and avoided challenges of adverse selection. The Collaborative noted in the report, “As a result, universal insurance appears to offer broad-based insurance at a comparatively low lifetime cost.”
In addition to recommending universal catastrophic insurance, the Collaborative also recommended taking some actions to revitalize the private insurance market. These included suggestions of employers offering long-term care insurance as part of their benefits packages. In addition, the group suggests that regulatory changes in the insurance industry, creating more standardization in policies, would save costs to consumers. The specifics of the regulatory change suggestions include increasing premiums and benefits as the individual ages. There is also a suggestion that this type of insurance be sold in conjunction with Medicare supplemental programs. Finally, the group suggests that policymakers continue to encourage and support efforts by the insurance industry to experiment with more hybrid products, combining long-term care insurance with other products.
Another recommendation given by the Collaborative was to encourage increased private savings for retirement. This encouragement might come in the form of ease of enrollment through employers’ benefits programs, expanded retirement products, tax subsidies and education.
Of note was a recommendation made by the Collaborative was to modernize Medicaid financing and eligibility. This recommendation is really one to expand Medicaid coverage to include more people, in more settings, for more care. Eligibility would be based on a functional assessment and a needs assessment rather than requiring an institutional level of care.
Many people are in denial about the possibility that they may need long term care some day and do not plan. While it is encouraging that the nationwide issue is being studied more and taken more seriously now, the problem is far from resolved. Until there is a firm solution, individuals must take responsibility and plan ahead.
If you or someone you know has questions about how to plan for the costs of long-term care, please feel free to contact me at 502-509-4635 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.