Long-term care is one of the major health expenses for which nearly all Americans are uninsured. Most people assume that only seniors need to be prepared for long-term care needs. But a debilitating car accident or sudden stroke can happen to anyone regardless of age. The cost of a part-time home health aide can average $450 a week and nursing homes can exceed $200 a day. Medicare doesn’t cover it and only 3 percent of Americans have private polices that do.
The Obama administration hoped to provide at least basic, affordable long-term care insurance by including the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Program (CLASS) in the larger health reform bill passed in 2010. But the program was dogged by financial problems from the start and quietly killed a couple of weeks ago.
Given the failure of the CLASS act – where do we go from here? It could take decades before lawmakers are willing to take this problem on again and given budget battles and partisan gridlock, this is a problem with no solution in sight.
So, how are we as a society going to deal with this? What should individuals and families do given the current situation?
Shana Alex Lavarreda, director of health insurance studies at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
Laura Mosqueda , M.D., Chair and Professor of Family Medicine, Director of Geriatrics and the Ronald Reagan Endowed Chair in Geriatrics at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine