Long Term Care – the growing expense
For years, federal and state governments have shied away from the problem of providing long-term care for ailing seniors – and for good reason. While mounting costs of Social Security, prescription drugs, and federal health care programs get a lot of attention, the staggering costs of providing community-based social services and nursing home facilities and in-home care to seniors are draining the savings of average Americans and posing frightening long-term fiscal challenges for government officials. “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,” Alice Rivlin, the former Congressional Budget Office Director and an expert on long-term elder care, testified recently before a House committee. “This shared-responsibility system is severely stressed, and will become increasingly unable to cope as the numbers needing care increase.” Moreover, the rapid growth in this spending is forcing policy makers to make tough budget choices between Medicaid and other spending for the elderly and education and other investments in young people, Rivlin added.
Long Term Care Spending Reality
Spending on long-term care for seniors by the federal government, states, families and individuals for those 65 and older will increase from 1.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2010 to 3 percent of GDP in 2050, according to the Congressional Budget Office. While some private health insurers provide long-term care policies to meet those future costs, the premiums are often astronomical and out of the grasp of middle income and even wealthier families.
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