Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Raleigh Observer on Long Term Care Issues

  The Raleigh News & Observer published a series of articles and opinion pieces about the issue of long-term care for the elderly.  Summaries appear below.

  • "Who Can Afford To Be Old and Sick?": A growing number of middle-income retirees with chronic illnesses or disabilities are struggling to pay for long-term care services such as nursing homes, assisted living and in-home aides, the News & Observer reports. Those affected earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private long-term care insurance or to pay for such care out of pocket (Goldsmith [1], Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

  • "When Long-Term Care Insurance Makes Sense":  According to the Administration on Aging, financial planners say long-term care insurance can be a good option for individuals with assets of $75,000 or more; retirement incomes of $25,000 to $35,000 per person or $35,000 to $50,000 per couple; and the ability to pay premiums without difficulty, even if they increase over time, the News & Observer reports. The "relatively new type of insurance" varies in coverage from in-home care for between one and two months to nursing home care for indefinite periods, according to the News & Observer. The cost of such plans range from less than $1,000 to as much as $9,000 per year depending on the services included and the age of the individual purchasing the policy (Goldsmith [2], Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

  • "Many Stopping Points Along a Continuum of Care": In recent decades, there has been a "continual evolution of services and care settings that fill every imaginable niche between home and the nursing home," Martha Grove Hipskind, an elder care consultant, writes in the News & Observer. Services such as senior centers, medication management, home-delivered meals, retirement communities, assisted living, respite care and hospice can be placed on a "continuum of care" to reflect the transition of an individual's aging needs, she says (Grove Hipskind, Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

  • "Majority Caught in the Middle": "We will need creative solutions that allow for a combination of private pay and public subsidy for people who don't fit the traditional 'low-income' criteria" to qualify for financial assistance in paying for long-term care, Liz Scott, director of Adult Economic Services in Wake County Human Services, writes in a News & Observer opinion piece. Scott says that the "reliance on programs designed to help only those technically below the poverty level will not serve our senior adults well in the years ahead" (Scott, Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

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