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Covering long-term care: Programs, data and questions to ask

Long-term care has been in the news with the October 2011 demise of the CLASS Act – the first attempt by the government to establish a national long-term care insurance program. Now, the question is how the long-term care needs of people with chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease will be addressed going forward as the Baby Boomers enter later years.

This has actually been a pressing, unresolved question for a long time. Although few people realize it, Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, for the most part. To be more precise, Medicare doesn’t pay for custodial care; it only pays for medically necessary care at home or in a skilled nursing facility, under limited circumstances.

That leaves middle class seniors having to pick up the tab for long-term care services out of their own pockets. Few people appear to have prepared adequately for this eventuality or to appreciate just how expensive it can be.

Judith Graham, AHCJ's topic leader on aging sorts out the options, the statistics and offers resources to help reporters cover long-term care for their readers and viewers.

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