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Long-term care - a growing employer concern.

Long-term care assistance is beginning to be investigated by employers as an employee benefit to combat loss of productivity, employee stress, absenteeism, and loss of valued employees. A recent study by John Hancock Financial Services and Fortune magazine discovered that half (49 percent) of the corporate executives responding to the survey are now responsible for an elderly person or have been in the past two years.

Many employees have "care giving" responsibilities for an older adult--parent, grandparent, or spouse. Studies show that 20-25 percent of a typical employer's work force provide such care. This "elder care" may cause employees to miss work, turn down overtime and training opportunities. and even quit their jobs.

The number of nonelderly needing longterm care, while smaller, is also increasing dramatically, growing at twice the rate of the elderly needing long-term care services. It is projected that, in the year 2000, 40 percent of the disabled will be under 65.

In the United States, up to 80 percent of all long-term care services are provided in the home by unpaid care givers, including family and friends. For the nonelderly, long-term care can be lifetime, lasting up to 70 years or more.

Federal programs for long-term care have mainly funded institutions, whereas com munity- and family-based care is more desirable because it better addresses needs. Unfortunately, long-term health care funding is not a priority this year, as Congress reviews possible changes in Medicare's catastrophic illness insurance plan. The private sector is becoming active. Eight percent of corporate executives responding in the John Hancock/ Fortune survey stated their companies were currently offering long-term care insurance coverage. Eighteen percent of companies are in the process of investigating the option of providing long-term care coverage.

Long-term care services being developed by employers include:

* Referal programs to community agencies. The cost of the AIDS program in San Francisco is substantially lower than those in other parts of the country because of the community agencies available in that city. (AIDS is now considered a chronic disease requiring long-term care.)

* Direct services, such as counseling and support groups. Case management of chronic illness can include care planning, care implementation, and ongoing care monitoring.

* Reimbursement programs for respite care or other temporary assistance.

Long-term care programs should address the medical, financial, legal, social, and psychological needs of the individual. Programs should support the person's aspirations for independence and selfsufficiency. The long-term care employee benefit is expanding beyond just health to include social services to assist the individual in maximizing his or her human potential.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American College of Physician Executives
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Stack, Ruth H.
Publication:Physician Executive
Article Type:column
Date:Sep 1, 1989
Words:421
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