The need for long-term care, LTC, has currently been on the rise and will continue to rise in the coming decades. It is projected that the elderly population will be doubling between now and 2050, which means that there will be a substantial increase in the number of people who will need LTC (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). The purchase of LTC insurance is often overlooked because many don’t think they will ever need LTC facilities and because the cost of insurance premiums is so high. It is a fact that 70% of people turning 65 years old can expect to use some form of LTC during their lives, therefore the Federal government needs a policy that will address the cost of LTC insurance (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). An incentive policy, such as a grant incentive program, would encourage the purchase of qualified LTC insurance. This policy would make LTC insurance more financially attractive while also increasing access and quality.
If a grant incentive system was implemented it would make the cost of insurance much more attractive. This incentive program would be modeled after the German government’s LTC insurance program, which has had success in encouraging more individuals to purchase LTC coverage. This program gives out grants to an individual when they pay their fixed amount per month for their insurance policy. There are different levels of coverage, so depending on what level the individual chooses, the more the monthly payment would be along with the grant received. The grant money would end up giving the individual extra coverage for when they really need to use it. This incentive program could encourage individuals to purchase private LTC insurance, therefore lowering the cost of having to utilize LTC without insurance (Bahr, Calsyn & Spiro, 2014).
This LTC insurance incentive program would increase access. The program guarantees assistance to individuals even if they don’t owe federal income taxes. Also, policies would be “guaranteed issue” meaning that any individual can buy insurance regardless of their health or risk of needing care (Bahr, Calsyn & Spiro, 2014). Many are unaware of the benefits that private insurance can bring, therefore if the general public is educated thoroughly about the program they would be more inclined to find a private insurer that offers the incentive (Shi & Singh, 2015). This program would also protect those who buy the qualified private LTC insurance because the premiums and benefits provided by the insurers cannot be varied based on the health status of the individual. Patients wouldn’t have to worry about being dropped from their insurance plan because these security measures would be in place (Bahr, Calsyn & Spiro, 2014).
By implementing this grant incentive for buying private LTC insurance it would increase the quality of care available to the individual. If patients are covered with LTC insurance, they will have the ability to find higher quality care and be able to financially afford that level of care. When individuals are not covered by private insurance they may not find the best care out there, that would be of higher quality, because they are worried about how much of a financial burden it may be. It is important for individuals to not have to settle for lesser care that does not fully meet their medical needs just because they cannot afford their desired coverage (Bahr, Calsyn & Spiro, 2014).
Most individuals who are insured with Medicare and Medicaid are under the impression that they will be covered for their LTC needs. These two primary government programs however do not protect the individual as much as what is perceived, and end up failing to meet the needs of people with a disability or illness who also need LTC. The grant incentive program wouldn’t suffer from this same issue because as a form of security the policy cannot increase premiums or take away certain benefits just because of health status. The program wouldn’t be bias towards the disabled or ill (Hoffman, 2014).
In summary the grant incentive program would encourage the purchase of private LTC insurance which would impact cost, access and quality. The cost in the long run would decrease for an individuals LTC needs if private insurance through this program is purchased ahead of time, the access would increase because the program cannot pick and choose who they’d select based on their health status, and lastly the quality of care would increase because the individual would be able to find LTC that covers all their medical needs.
Bahr, D., Spiro, T., & Calsyn, M. (2014, October 31). Reforms to Help Meet the Growing Demand for Long-Term Care Services. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/report/2014/10/31/100040/reforms-to-help-meet-the-growing-demand-for-long-term-care-services/
Hoffman, A. (2014, November 14). Risk And Reform Of Long-Term Care. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2014/11/14/risk-and-reform-of-long-term-care/
Shi, L., & Singh, D. (2015). Long-Term Care. In Delivering health care in America: A systems approach (6th ed., p. 407). Burlington, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett.
U.S. Census Bureau. (2011, October 31). SIXTY-FIVE PLUS IN THE UNITED STATES. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from https://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/statbriefs/agebrief.html
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Home – Long-Term Care Information. Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://longtermcare.gov/#