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The real costs of long-term care -- and the cost of doing nothing by Michel Grignon and Nicole Bernier

The real costs of long-term care -- and the cost of doing nothing by Michel Grignon and Nicole Bernier

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Published by EvidenceNetwork.ca

As Canada’s population ages a growing number of frail seniors will require long-term care services to help them perform daily activities such as eating, dressing or bathing. Ensuring that adequate care is accessible to every Canadian who needs it should be a national priority. But who should foot the bill?

As Canada’s population ages a growing number of frail seniors will require long-term care services to help them perform daily activities such as eating, dressing or bathing. Ensuring that adequate care is accessible to every Canadian who needs it should be a national priority. But who should foot the bill?

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Published by: EvidenceNetwork.ca on Feb 06, 2013
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09/17/2013

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The real costs of long-term care for Canada
 and the cost of doing nothing
 
by Michel Grignon and Nicole F. Bernier
 
As Canada
s population ages, a
growing number of frail seniorswill require long-term care servicesto help them perform dailyactivities such as eating, dressingor bathing. Ensuring that adequatecare is accessible to everyCanadian who needs it should be anational priority.But who should foot the bill?The cost of long-term care servicescan be very high: 24/7 assistance inan institution costs around $60,000per person per year. At present, thefinancing of long-term care in Canada is a patchwork. Access to long-term care and its cost toindividuals vary depending on the region where they live and whether they are still at home or in aresidential facility.In a study published earlier this year by the Institute for Research in Public Policy(http://www.irpp.org/pubs/IRPPstudy/IRPP_Study_no33.pdf ), we reviewed the theory and practice on long-term care funding to determine what method would best suit Canada.We found that relying on private savings is not an efficient way for Canadians to provide for theirpotential future care needs, since individuals are likely to save too much or too little. The risk of becoming dependent on formal care for an extended period of time is concentrated among a relativelysmall segment of the population for whom the risk can reach catastrophic levels in financial terms. Forexample, at age 65, only 20% of individuals will require care for more than five years in theirremaining years.On average individuals would need to save the equivalent of $7,500 per year over a 40-year period, atotal of $300,000, to adequately prepare for their potential long-term care funding needs (marriedcouples could halve this amount). So the private savings option is not only not feasible for most, itwould also be a waste of resources, because 80% of the population will end up not needing so muchsavings.In fact, in no country in the world are private savings the only source of funding for long-term care, noteven in the U.S. or Singapore, two countries noted for their preference for individual savings andmarket competition in health care.Our research found that the best way to guarantee that adequate long-term care and assistance will beavailable to every Canadian who needs it at a reasonable cost to society is through comprehensive,

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