Naïveté solves all LTC-related problems, studies do not show
Next to a cozy blanket or mug of cocoa, nothing quite soothes the soul like the calming embrace of pure naiveté. Perhaps that's why more than one-third of Americans apparently believe Medicare will pay for their long-term care needs, according to a recent survey reported by McKnight's.
The survey does not indicate what percentage of those folks spend each day shouting la-la-la with their fingers in their ears, but I'm guessing they also believe the daily cost of nursing home care to be about that of a room at the Hampton Inn. In fact, the actual average cost is now about $7,700 a month, though in fairness, at most facilities that includes a truly fabulous breakfast buffet.
Despite the actual fact that Medicaid is the largest public payer of long-term care services, only 2 of 10 older adults expect to ever use it, according to another study. Instead, in the extremely unlikely event that the need for skilled care actually arises, they believe a unicorn will appear with $100,000 hanging from its horn each year for the duration of what will surely be an extremely temporary health set-back. Or that Mexico will pay for it.
Taking the quest for insight ever broader and deeper, ne'er-do-well researchers have also found that fully one-third of Americans have done absolutely no planning at all for future long-term care needs. Given the infirmity-before-death model to which most of us are doomed, expecting a reprieve or rescue is about as irresponsible as thinking the actual Dr. Heimlich will show up when we choke on a chicken bone. And we all know how unlikely that is.
After pondering this preponderance of scientific inquiry into the minds of ordinary people, I think what saddens me most is how unnecessary it is. If alleged “researchers” would just accept the transforming power of naiveté into their own hearts and lives, they wouldn't feel so compelled to ruin everyone else's blissful reverie by asking needlessly worry-provoking questions.
But unfortunately, these selfish and godless “scientists” refuse to curb their counterproductive impulse to burst every possible bubble of reality-free belief. Most frightening of all, it's now spreading to the provider side, where wild-eyed “experts” are warning of marketplace “changes” that will cause “havoc” for nursing home operators.
So let's just pause right now and take a deep breath. Let a soothing poultice of naiveté and denial work its healing magic. Providers who do nothing to demonstrate their value but take donuts to hospitals once a month will probably be fine, Lincoln will be our next president and Dr. Heimlich is standing by.
Also, there's a unicorn on your porch.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the 2014 Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.