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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Call for ‘radical overhaul’ of long-term care funding

A new funding model for long-term care of senior citizens is needed in the UK, delegates at the Profession’s Health and Care Conference in Glasgow heard. In a workshop entitled: ‘Who cares? Reforming long-term care’, University of Birmingham Health Services Management Centre co-director Jon Glasby said the current system places an unfair burden on individuals.

Professor Glasby said alternative methods of long-term care funding that need to be discussed include:
>> Introducing compulsory long-term care insurance
>> Abolishing long-term care fees
>> Drawing on the value of homes through equity release.

He said he hopes the government’s Green Paper on care and support, due this year, will provide an opportunity to stimulate debate on the issue and lead to an overhaul of the system. “There is the risk that we retain the status quo, with a few tweaks, but I believe the existing system needs a radical overhaul to fund long-term care for older people. It is a fundamental personal and political issue that is at stake, and we really need to think and talk about where we may go next,” he said.

“I personally think that it does not make sense that we distinguish between people who are ‘sick’ and those who are ‘frail’ or ‘disabled’. One service is free and the other is means-tested, which has significant implications for who pays and who provides. It does not make sense that someone who has cancer and is treated in a hospital pays nothing, while someone who is in a care home and treated in a similar way for Alzheimer’s is charged for their care. It is not meaningful to have a separate system of health and social care.”

Professor Glasby also said that he did not agree with the argument that the government cannot afford to fund long-term care. “Some people might say that we cannot afford to fund long-term care, but anything is affordable if we choose to pay for it. If enough people decided that it is important, it can be done.”