Elections, Government, and Long Term Care: Our Very Own Pompeii

ltc-elections-govtIt is not an oft-heard comment this election year – yet it is one of the smoldering volcanoes that will erupt in the next few years as we continue to see a large, aging population in the USA.  The costs of medical care continue to rise.  As medical technology improves, so do lifespans.  As lifespans grow longer and longer, we are seeing more and longer runs of long term care.

Between medical expenses and long term care expenses, though, long term care is winning in the overall dollar cost amount.  The cost of long term care can be 2, 3 and 4 times medical expenses depending on the case!

It is a sleeping giant of a problem…

Economics indicates there simply are not enough tax payers in the generations behind the Baby Boomers to pay for the social security we have promised that generation.  Never mind the medical benefits they are currently entitled to.  If we tack on long term care costs, we will effectively burden our children’s children’s children’s children with the debt load.  It could be the item that finally tanks us completely.

Yet we still hear cries from people that “the government shouldn’t drain a person’s life savings to pay for care in their older years.”  First, the government doesn’t drain the savings, the need for care does.  Second the government will take care of a senior who is in care if they truly can no longer pay for their care themselves – we aren’t parking seniors by the dumpster after all.  That is what Medicaid does – yet even that is strained to the breaking point and we still haven’t yet seen all the weight of the Boomers hit the system.

What is a government to do?  What is a candidate to do?  As a nation, we can’t afford to take on the costs, but as a candidate, it isn’t popular to remind people they are responsible for their own costs of care in an election year.  So we just don’t bring it up.  We let that sleeping volcano lie and hope it doesn’t erupt in the middle of our campaigning.  If it does come up we make placating noises and rapidly turn the conversation into some other topic.

There are a few voices in the night trying to get the word out:  Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, and other financial advisors who can see the tsunami coming.  But most of us…?  We focus on the same things the candidates focus on and argue over the same ground.  While in the meantime, we sit in our Pompeii ignoring the belching smoke…

Leave a Reply