I have an obvious weakness as a news reporter.
I love writing about interesting awful things that could possibly happen in some fascinating, theoretical future, but I hate writing about actual bad news, especially if it could be seen as embarrassing to people who were probably nice and probably were doing their best.
I know I often work very hard to mess things up royally, so I have nothing but love in my heart for, for example, the poor people who have set up Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) programs that haven’t worked all that well.
So, it’s great to be writing about long-term care insurance (LTCI) and long-term care (LTC) planning now, when U.S. LTC support programs seem to be working reasonably well. Sort of. If you don’t count all of the stress and financial strain.
But it’s frightening to think about what it might be like to cover this same beat 20 years from now: when, instead of ignoring strong, healthy-looking panhandlers on the sidewalk in front of my office, and comforting myself with the thought that they’re probably well-paid undercover cops, I’ll be ignoring 90-something panhandlers who clearly need to be somewhere other than a sidewalk.
On the other hand, in spite of how foolish we can all be, and how many chances there are for us to go wrong, things often go right.
One case in point is the Ebola virus.
A year ago, it still seemed as if the big health insurance story in 2015 could be a widespread outbreak of Ebola that would overwhelm all U.S. health care facilities and all public and private U.S. health finance programs.
Public health authorities said they had Ebola contained, but it was hard for a layperson to know if that was really true. Maybe pockets of it were festering somewhere. Maybe one-third of us would be dead by the time I was writing my 2016 forecast stories. If I was alive to write a 2016 forecast.
But I’m alive. Public health authorities, health care professionals, and ordinary people acting in their own enlightened self-interest contained and ended the outbreak.
As we head into Thanksgiving, we can be enormously grateful that the country stopped Ebola so well that, while writing this article, I had look in our archive system to see if our style is to capitalize the first letter in Ebola.
Let’s hope that, 20 years from now, people with a professional interest in LTC finance have to look in archive systems to see whether the health policy watchers who used to fear Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease in the olden days, back before the greedy drug companies came through with cures, happened to capitalize the first letters in the names of those nearly forgotten conditions.