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

Among the many 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 Hawai’i shows that 27 percent of O’ahu residents age 50+ 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), Kaua’i (40 percent), Hilo (35 percent), and Maui (32 percent). This misplaced confidence — in the face of Hawai’i’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 Hawai’i State President Stuart Ho. “Yet, Hawai’i residents are woefully uninformed about the basic realities of long-term care — including how much it costs and who pays for it.”

A featured speaker at the public events was 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 Hawai’i as the Commission gets ready to present recommendations for reform to the state Legislature in 2012.

If you have questions about Medicare and Medicaid and how much the programs pay for long-term care, the State of Hawai’i’s Sage PLUS program, 586-7299, is a great source of information. If you belong to a group and would like to invite AARP Hawai’i to speak to your members about planning for long-term care, call AARP Hawai’i at 545-6006.

 

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