The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

September 9, 2013

The Color of Money: Long-term, who will take care of you?

     I attended Bishop T. D. Jakes' MegaFest conference over the Labor Day holiday weekend in which I participated on a panel about faith, family and finances.

     During the discussion, a woman asked a question that so many others are asking. She wanted to know what to do about her aging parents. They have little money and many health issues. She didn't think they could continue to afford living on their own. The woman is sandwiched between taking care of her children and her parents. Her financial resources can stretch only so far.

     "I am at a loss," she said.

     The fact is, her options are limited. We've been spending a lot of time lately talking about the Affordable Care Act, but there are many people like this woman's parents, even if they have health insurance, who will still fall short of the care they need. Under the ACA, there are provisions for states to expand Medicaid to help people receive long-term care services and support in their home or the community. But what if you aren't poor enough to qualify for Medicaid?

     As part of health care reform, there is now a federal Commission on Long-Term Care, which is charged with coming up with a comprehensive plan by the middle of September to address the availability and financing of long-term services and support systems for seniors and disabled Americans. But until such services and systems exist, what are your options?

     Unfortunately, you are pretty much on your own.

     Surveys continue to show that many people are unprepared for the cost of a prolonged illness, especially in their senior years. Medicare generally does not cover long-term care services, which include assistance with daily activities such as eating, dressing and bathing, or help with someone who has a severe cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's disease. Without long-term care insurance for her parents, which can cover the cost of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and in-home care, the woman and her husband will largely have to rely on their own funds.

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