In the 1940s, the United States voluntarily rationed scarce commodities to ensure that soldiers would have the food and support they needed to fight our cause overseas. Back then, rationing took place for the nation’s greater good.
More recently, politicians have thrown around the term “health care rationing” as a way to scare consumers, but the fact is that health care rationing takes place every day. Today, the scarce commodity isn’t butter or sugar — it’s money.
Most Americans understand that when medical funds are limited, so are the available options. Indeed, we regularly self-ration. Suppose you develop an irritating rash. You could go to the doctor and fork over either the copayment or the full cost of the visit from your own pocket. Then, you’ll pay again some amount for whatever prescription your doctor writes. Or, you may choose to first try an over-the-counter rash treatment instead. In doing so, you have effectively self-rationed your care and saved your money for something you believe is more important.
In the years ahead, successful insurance professionals will find themselves using the concept of rationing to establish the value of purchasing long term care insurance.
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As I write this, the final outcome of health care reform is unknown, and the inclusion of a universal long term care insurance option, while likely, is still uncertain. But one thing’s for sure: Our nation’s citizenry is facing at least decade during with resources will be limited. More consumers will be forced to ration virtually every decision that involves cost. The greater the cost, the more people will face difficult decisions. And, when it comes to the need for long term care, we’re not talking about just an irritating rash — we’re talking about facilities that won’t be staffed to provide adequate care.