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LTCI Watch: Still oblivious (with spoilers)

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I saw Julianne Moore in “Still Alice” a week ago and certainly agree that she deserves her Oscar.

She made that little indie film about a woman with the early symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease a lot better and more watchable than it had any right to be.

See also: Dementia cinema: 4 upcoming productions

As I sat through it, I thought, “Well, this is great. This is fine. It’s warm, it’s pretty, and it moves pretty quickly. It’s not scary enough to make me dive behind the seat and stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes.” So, for me, while I was in the theater, the film was a success.

But, soon after I left the theater, and the warm feelings left by Moore’s performance and the other actors’ work faded, and the warm feelings left by the filmmakers’ serious effort to portray the early stages of Alzheimer’s faded, it hit me that the film was too glossy, and too generalized.

The filmmakers tried to put in some conflict. The woman’s children bicker. Her husband obsesses about what to do when he has a chance to take a great job elsewhere, and his wife wants to stay put.

I looked at audience reviews and saw that many audience members had the same reaction I did. Then I tried to think about what I would write about it for and remembered something interesting: As far as I can remember, no one in the film ever mentions any kind of insurance, or savings mechanism of any kind.

Alice Howland, the lead character, and her husband are successful professors who live on the Upper West Side of New York. They live in what for New York City is a giant, lavish townhouse. But, at one point, around the time Howland and her husband are coping with the early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis by hanging out all summer in a huge, gorgeous Long Island beach house, the husband mentions that he can’t really afford to stay off work for a year and just hang out with his wife.

So, these are not supposed to be people who inherited $100 million, or even $10 million, in wealth from their relatives. They’re affluent working people.

They probably start out with great group health and disability benefits.

But even great, generous health plans and group disability plans have their quirks. Alice, her husband and their three young adult children never complain once about duplicate health insurance bills, praise a surprisingly effective care coordinator, or think about trying to get Alice into Medicare.

They never talk about how the family can afford to maintain its lifestyle, and hire a home health aide, after Alice takes medical leave.

They never celebrate having long-term care insurance (LTCI), lament having ignored LTCI fliers, or complain about having canceled their LTCI policies because of increases in premiums. They just seem to pay their bills with money that shows up, magically, off-screen.

One of the adult children gives up her dream of becoming an actor, at least temporarily, to come home to look after her mom, but she and the other members of the family do have the money to fly around the country whenever they feel like it. Aside from Alice, none of them ever seems to have to ask a boss for time off work.

The credits include a long list of technical advisors. If one of the advisors had been a long-term care (LTC) planner, I think that could have been the start of grounding the film in reality and make it seem less like a typical disease off the week movie.

See also: LTCI Watch: Amour (with spoilers!)


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