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Long-Term Care Events Address Gaps in Understanding

Nearly 800 residents throughout Hawaii attended public information sessions on long-term care in mid-October. The events were hosted by AARP and featured state and national issue experts who brought the realities of long-term care into sharper focus.

See Also: Survey Points to Increased Reliance on Family Caregivers

Among numerous issues covered was the role of Medicare in paying for long-term care – an apparent source of confusion for many older island residents. A new survey of AARP members in Hawaii shows that 29 percent of residents age 50+ statewide believe Medicare pays for long-term care services if they or a family member become ill or disabled, even though the federal program provides extremely limited coverage.

The survey shows that Neighbor Island residents are more likely to believe Medicare pays for long-term care than Honolulu residents: Kona (41 percent), Kauai (40 percent), Hilo (35 percent), Maui (32 percent), and Oahu (29 percent). This misplaced confidence—in the face of Hawaii’s rapidly aging population—underscores the need for public education about the costs of long term care and how to pay for it.

“Two-thirds of us will probably need some form of long-term care support at some point after reaching age 65,” says AARP Hawaii State President Stuart Ho. “Yet, Hawaii residents are woefully uninformed about the basic realities of long-term care – including how much it costs and who pays for it.”

Featured speakers included AARP Senior Legislative Representative Ilene Henshaw, who focused on the coverage—and coverage limitations—of Medicare and Medicaid. She also identified questions to ask when considering private insurance and other financing options.

Ho, who also serves as chair of the Long-Term Care Commission, offered an update on the challenges facing Hawaii as the Commission gets ready to present recommendations for reform to the state Legislature in 2012.

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