Researchers examine the key issues surrounding entitlement program policy discussions and point out current societal shortcomings, such as the general lack of financial planning for long term services and supports, which must be considered when revising any of the plans.
The Kaiser Family Foundation and Georgetown University have released a policy brief that advocates for a holistic perspective on entitlement programs. “As policymakers consider options for decreasing spending on entitlement programs, it is important to consider the overall and interrelated effects of policy proposals on seniors’ ability to pay for needed health care and essential living expenses,” said the authors of the brief. The brief goes on to expand upon the various issues that must be considered when revising policy for any entitlement program.
The issues include seniors’ heavy reliance on Social Security, the high proportion of seniors’ budgets that are spent on medical costs, the need for long term services and supports, and the inability of many seniors to pay for long term care.
The brief points out that only 10 percent of seniors have long term care insurance, while two-thirds of those over age 65 will need some form of long-term services and supports, such as assisted living, during their lifetime. Low- and middle- income seniors frequently deplete their savings and rely on Medicaid. In fact, one-third of Medicaid spending covers long-term services and supports. If no changes are made, these costs are likely to grow. “Many seniors will continue to face a risk of financially catastrophic long‐term care costs,” reads the report. “If current trends continue, most seniors in the future will not be insured for long‐term care costs and face the risk of high out‐of‐pocket costs and unmet needs.”
Read the full issue brief: Key Issues in Understanding the Economic and Health Security of Current and Future Generations of Seniors.