Worldwide Social Care Reforms: Latest Developments

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In the UK, the focus has turned to funding care for the over-80s. Image credit: Ned Horton.

Social Health Care: Where Will the Money Come From?

In the UK, Andrew Lansley, health secretary, is expected to announce plans for a social care loan scheme which would make loans available to those unable to pay for their care. The social care loans would be an effort to stop the elderly in need of care from having to rely on equity in their homes to fund their care late in life. The costs and loan amount would then be recovered from the patient’s estate following their death.

Tax-payers will be concerned that plans to help fund social care will be primarily sourced from their tax contributions. Andrew Dilnot, of the Dilnot Commission, which has been campaigning for increased government contributions towards the cost of care for two years, has addressed the concerns. Speaking to the BBC, he said: “In the first three years of implementation, the cost of the proposal…will be less than one thousandth of overall public spending.”

In the US, possible tax increases are also a concern. The results of a poll by Quinnipiac University, released over the summer, show that 55% of voters think that the Affordable Care Act is a “tax hike” and will cause Obama to retract his original promises when coming into power of not raising taxes for families with an income of $250,000 or less.

When Will The Reforms Take Place?

Concerns are already emerging as the British government continues to postpone a definite decision on the cap for means-testing. Dilnot has

campaigned for the cap to be raised to £100,000, but reviews in 2011 suggested £35,000 as an appropriate figure. The proposals this week fail to put a final figure on the means-testing reforms and the expected budget for increasing the levels of state-funding care availble, instead deferring the decision until the next spending review (the date of which is currently unconfirmed).

Improving Social Care Costs

Whilst the emergence of the White Paper is a move in the right direction for improving the financing of social care, campaigners will be disappointed that no firm measures have been put in place to help individuals already struggling with the cost of care.

In the US, the  Department of Health and Human Services maintains that the Affordable Care Act will be in full effect by 2014, despite pending repeals against the introduction of compulsory health insurance.

Resources:

Department of Health.  Caring for our future: reforming care and support White Paper. (2012). Accessed October 22, 2012.

Mulholland and Ramesh. Social Care Reform: Elderly to Borrow Cash For Care. (2012). The Guardian. Accessed October 22, 2012.

Qunnipiac University Press Release. American Voters Say Health Law is a Tax Hike. (2012). Accessed October 22, 2012.

Department of Health & Human Services News Release. Obama Administration and States Move Forward to Implement Health Care Law. (2012). Accessed October 22, 2012.

Ambrosi, M. Lack of commitment on care crisis leaves local government adrift. (2012). Accessed October 22, 2012.

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