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Long Term Care included in Health Care Reform Bill

Posted by Diane H Blackwelder on 22 April 2010 | 0 Comments

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A topic most people would rather avoid – how to pay for care as you age - is getting some much-needed attention thanks to its place in the federal health care overhaul. Included in the reform bill is the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, a long-term care program that will be administered by the federal government.

While the added focus on long-term care planning is certainly positive, one local specialist says it doesn’t mean people still don't need to make their own preparations. Barbara Franklin, owner of Franklin & Associates, a Charleston-based company that specializes in long-term care planning and financing, says the CLASS Act is a start - but not a panacea - for dealing with the issues of paying for care.

Simply stated, the CLASS Act creates a voluntary government program under which individuals will pay a monthly premium and will be eligible for modest benefits for their long-term care needs after five years of paying premiums. Employers of a certain size would institute payroll deductions to cover the monthly premiums, but workers could opt out of the program.

"The intent of this program is admirable - to provide care to the working disabled - but there are too many unknowns at this point for everyone to forego their own planning in favor of a government program," Franklin says. "The fact is if you want to know you’ll have quality care when you need it, you've got to plan for it yourself."

Although the CLASS Act is part of the health care reform bill, the Department of Health and Human Services is required by law to put together the details, which are due by the end of 2012.

The CLASS program differs from traditional long-term care insurance because there are no health qualification requirements. Franklin says the premium may be costly because the program could be most attractive to those with health problems and who are most likely to have needs that would tap the program. The benefits provided by the CLASS Act - expected to be in the range of $50 to $75 per day - are also substantially less than what is available with long-term care insurance.

"Over time, this program will change the landscape of long-term care financing in our country and encourage people to think about their future," Franklin says. "But the specifics about the CLASS Act are unclear and we just don't know enough to gauge the long-term viability. What we do know is that it doesn't eliminate the need for planning ahead."

About Franklin & Associates
Founded in 1995 by Barbara Franklin, Franklin & Associates helps individuals, couples, families and business owners throughout the United States with long-term care planning and financing. Franklin is very active with the local senior community, serving on the board of the South Carolina Aging in Place Coalition and former president of the Lowcountry Senior Network. She also sits on the advisory council of the Lowcountry Senior Center on James Island and on the board of directors of the Trident Area Agency on Aging. Nationally, Franklin is on the advisory council of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. For more information, call (843) 762-4260 or visit www.franklinassociatesinc.com.


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