Americans in most demographic groups are living longer than ever before. Unfortunately, on average they are not living any healthier than previous generations of elderly people. That means that people will need ever increasing lengths of nursing home stays or long-term home health services.
The big problem with this is that most people do not have a good way to pay for that care. They either have to deplete their own assets and then fall on Medicaid to cover the rest of the costs or they have to have private long-term care insurance, which can be costly and is sometimes difficult to obtain.
This creates a gap in the country's health care coverage that needs to be addressed. In "Should Medicare Add A Long-Term Care Benefit?" Forbes columnist Howard Gleckman discusses a couple of different proposals to help fill this gap.
One proposal would add a long-term home health benefit to Medicare. Patients could receive up to $400 a week of in-home services with a co-payment required the amount of which would be based on their income.
As this plan would require an increase in payroll taxes and many politicians think Medicare is too expensive already, it could be difficult to get political support for this option. The other proposal would create a new public universal long-term care insurance program.
Other proposals exist as well, but as of now no proposal has a broad consensus behind it in Congress.
Reference: Forbes (April 15, 2016) "Should Medicare Add A Long-Term Care Benefit?"