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Long-Term Care - Essay Example

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The current state of the long-term care system of the United States has been brought about by the forces stemming from the combination of demographic, socio-economic and cultural factors and of the policy directions or choices that the government, both at the state and federal levels has chosen to follow in response to long-term care issues…
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Long-Term Care
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Download file to see previous pages The aging of America has helped to bring the issue of the state of long-term care system in the limelight. It was in 1988 when Presidential candidates talked in their debates for the elections while Congress first tried decisively to cobble a national policy on long-term care by introducing four major bills on long-term care financing (Kuchler 1). However, while America is aging, life expectancy has also lengthened so that more and more older people are joining the ranks of senior citizens - consequently, expanding the ranks of those who will face disability in the near future. In the past, the policy was geared towards institutional care, mostly nursing homes and residential care facilities, but now efforts are being done towards more a home-based or community-based care due to the wishes of the families of patients.
Another socio-cultural force that has brought the long-term care system to its current state is the role played by informal caregivers, especially women. Women and relatives of the elderly and the disabled have traditionally been assigned the task of being the caregivers of the family. As a result of higher educational attainments, rising divorce rates, and more opportunities for women in the labor force, the long-term care system has been faced with the issue of dearth of informal caregivers. ...
The shortage of care-giving professionals will continue to affect the state of the long-term care system in the future.
Long-term care financing as well as delivery has been tasked as a matter of policy to Medicare and Medicaid, with the former including long-term care service only as an adjunct in case of acute illness for people with disabilities and the latter, as the institutional source of long-term care funding for very economically hard-up people. The policy has been criticized for failing to provide support for people who need long-term care service. Medicaid only could be relied on to provide long-term care when their financial resources have dried up and thus, "the system is excessively harsh" (Feder, Komisar and Niefeld 54). Partly the result of the inadequacy of the coverage of long-term care financing, most people especially from the middle classes rely on out-of-pocket expenses to pay for long-term care. It is estimated in one study that 20% of older people will spend US$25,000 from their own pockets to fund future long-term care needs (Johnson, Toohey and Wiener 2). There are continuing policy debates on how to integrate Medicare and Medicaid and how these debates will fare in the coming years and thus shape whether the long-term care system will be up to the challenge of providing better services and financially viable options for the country.
As the age group called the baby boomers or those who were born between 1946 and 1964 reach retirement age and who currently comprise more than a fourth of the American population, some have sounded alarms that this phenomenon is a healthcare crisis in the making (Achison n.p.). When this age group will become part of the population that will stop paying taxes that fund Medicare and would be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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