Time flies.

Sometimes, when I’m at the supermarket, I succumb to temptation and buy tabloid newspapers.

Shocking, I know, but true. I started buying them occasionally to laugh at the little gossipy, stories about Star Trek actors, and found that the simple, zingy writing dragged me along from front to back. So, once in a while, especially when I’m sick, or bribing myself not to buy and eat a cookie, I buy a tabloid, even if it doesn’t have Mr. Spock on the cover.

One thing I’ve discovered is that the tabloids have great, HIPAA-privacy-rights-shredding health care reporters.

If they say a celebrity is in the hospital and gravely ill, that celebrity is probably gravely ill. They also do their part for dietary health by reporting in exhaustive detail what’s going right or wrong with celebrities’ efforts either to lose weight or to fight anorexia.

Recently, one tabloid, National Enquirer reported, as other publications did, that Burt Reynolds went to the hospital with the flu. That’s a pretty interesting, valuable public health article in itself — educating tabloid readers about what a killer the flu can be.

The Enquirer added an extra detail: That, supposedly, Reynolds needed aides at home and didn’t have them, supposedly because of financial concerns.

I’m not an entertainment reporter, and my experience is that it’s pretty hard to even figure out who a celebrity’s publicist is, let alone getting the publicist to call you back. I tried calling the guy that I think is Reynolds’ publicist and never heard from him.

My assumption is that the Enquirer’s report about Reynolds’ unmet home care needs is wrong, or, at least, exaggerated, because one would assume that there must be at least, say 10,000 U.S. women who have crushes on Reynolds, and that at least a couple of them must own or manage home health agencies in Florida. If Reynolds ever indicated that he had an unmet need for care, chances are that many qualified individuals would pay him to enter a lottery that would give them a chance to provide care for him for a week.

But reading about that report got me thinking the general concept of celebrity long-term care (LTC) plans.

Marilee Driscoll, the LifeHealthPro.com 12 Questions columnist, asks successful long-term care insurance (LTCI) producers, “What’s your LTC plan? Not your long-term care insurance, but your LTC plan?”

What if a really clever LTCI public relations specialist who knew an entertainment public relations specialist could figure out how to get celebrities to divulge information about their LTC plans, and current use of LTC services?

Why shouldn’t a frail, older celebrity’s care arrangements be as well-chronicled today as her marriages, divorces, Oscar gowns and acute medical crises were in years past?

Maybe the LTCI publicists could persuade some celebrities and their public relations professionals to let LTC matters surface, either through so-called “leaks” dribbled out to scoop-hungry gossip columnists or through ordinary celebrity profiles.

Tabloids could comment on whether older celebrities have or have not provided for their retirement by setting up the right kinds of insurance policies and savings arrangements just as eagerly as they now comment on whether the thighs of a famous actress are too fat, too thin or just right.

One thing could lead to another, and, before you know it, LTCI carriers rejuvenated by a future increase in interest rates could be the proud sponsors of “The Real Caregiver Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “The Apprentice Caregiver” and “Survivor: The Nursing Home Dementia Ward Edition.” 

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