I like to follow the news and so, yesterday, when I heard about the plan proposed by the Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne to allow those approaching 65 to purchase a type of insurance policy for roughly £8000 to cover future cost of nursing or residential home fees, the idea actually baffled me.
Sure, it served it’s purpose and made lots of headlines about the stretched middle classes who resent that they have pay for services that they receive in later life, even if it means selling their own home to do so. But the proposal made me wonder how much Osborne and the Conservative Party actually know about the current system and the changes that the ‘Putting People First’ agenda is pushing or whether (which I suspect is the answer) they are chasing cheap headlines.
I will be clear and say that as a home-owner, there is no way on earth I would recommend anyone taking out this insurance at 65. The likelihood of going into ‘care’ is minute. Some newspapers quoted the figure but the current policy is to (quite rightly) keep care in the home as much as is possible. Those who have underlying health conditions that might indicate a propensity to need this type of care would be excluded from the ‘insurance scheme’.
I suppose I come from a position of seeing how much care costs to the local authorities who fund it and thinking that if someone can pay for their own care, there is no reason that they shouldn’t, however I know that is not the opinion of the majority of the Great British Public and it is politically expedient to provide a ‘solution’ to this issue for the voters.
As pointed out in the Independent, the option of taking insurance against long-term care already exists in the private sector insurance market so presenting this as a public policy also makes little sense.
As with all policies though, the devil is often in the detail rather than the grand posturing designed to capture the attention of the media – just as Labour’s ‘free care for those with highest needs’ did last week.
I am sceptical of both plans to be honest, especially as the consultation period is still open for the Green Paper on the funding of Adult Care. I will await the results of that consultation although it’s looking increasingly likely there will be a change of government next year so we might be back to the beginning again..