Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 59A | February 2000
Replacing a Welfare Model with an Insurance Model
The nation is not prepared to deal with the jump in expenditures for long-term care that will come with the aging of the baby-boom generation. Only a small part of that care is paid for privately (out-of-pocket or through private insurance). Most is financed through Medicaid, the program that is intended to ensure medical care for the indigent. This use of Medicaid comes at a high cost for individuals and society: the allotment of more than a third of the Medicaid budget to long-term care; a two-tier care system; and the commandeering of limited funds by middle- and high-income people through elaborate estate planning to circumvent eligibility requirements. These problems would be mitigated by replacing the welfare model with an insurance model—voluntary or compulsory private insurance, with subsidies through income-scaled tax credits to ensure affordability. An equitable and efficient system could be created with a blend of public money, private insurance, and other private saving, with a safety net for those in greatest need.
Walter M. Cadette