The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Columns

November 17, 2012

Spear column: End-of-life decisions matter beyond the individual

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This isn’t only an issue of personal finance, it’s an issue of state finance. That’s because state programs such as Medical Assistance and Medicaid will be impacted by the long-term care costs of those qualifying for those programs.

The state’s current expense in long-term care costs comes in around $1 billion. By 2030, the cost could be as high as $5 billion, said Prettner Solon.

“That’s unsustainable. We’ll all end up paying for it.”

The Own Your Future program has a website (mn.gov/ownyourfuture) aimed at raising awareness. They’ve also enlisted some major employer/partners such as Thrivent Financial to take the lead in getting the word out and making their employees aware of the need to plan ahead.

Much needs to be done. A survey by the state showed that one-third of the people had not given the long-term care issue any thought. A good share of the rest thought the government was going to take care of it.

Prettner Solon says people think Medicare will cover long-term care, but in most cases, it does not. It only covers rehab care in a nursing home after a hospital visit of three days.

While the website helps raise awareness, more needs to be done. Gov. Dayton and Prettner Solon sent a letter to all Minnesotans in the 40-65 age group urging them to get prepared and visit the website for information. Prettner Solon said that helped some as the site initially had 40,000 page views, but those people didn’t spend a lot of time on the site. Fewer have come since then and stayed longer.

If you’re concerned about taxes and spending, finding out more about this long-term care issue and making a plan yourself may go a long way to avoiding handing down huge debts to the state’s and country’s next generation.

 

Joe Spear is editor of The Free Press. Contact him at 344-6382 or jspear@mankatofreepress.com

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