Can Elderly People Afford Long-Term Care? Financing Long-Term Care in Poland and the Financial Resources Available to Beneficiaries
Purpose: This paper aims to assess long-term care (LTC) spending in Poland broken down into public financing and beneficiaries' contributions, which depend on the financial resources available to them. By focusing on individual expense items from the people's perspective requiring care, the author takes stock of the range of care services on offer relative to the financial resources available to those in need. Design/Methodology/Approach: The study examines expenditures on LTC in the West Pomeranian Region of Poland in three social care systems. Out of the list of such expenditures correlated with the financial resources available to the elderly, particular focus is placed on residential LTC services provided in comprehensive care systems. Findings: The levels of expense relative to the average disposable income of pensioners vary widely, revealing the problem of older adults having insufficient financial resources to self-finance their LTC in Poland. The variance results from system design and the principles that govern care financing. The cost of some residential LTC services is charged to beneficiaries, meaning they are required to pay for them out of their pocket, while other services are co-financed at fixed rates that vary depending on the income of the respective beneficiaries. Practical Implications: The paper outlines the essential characteristics of a new LTC financing scheme that could be designed and rolled out in Poland based on research. The main idea is to establish a new dedicated source of care service funding and a new fund-collecting entity. Originality/Value: The proposed method of LTC financing in Poland provides an opportunity to resolve insufficient care funding partially. It is necessary and crucial to identify a new source of funding that would feed into the system, given especially that Polish society is aging rapidly. The discussion covers multiple solutions, some of them taken from the LTC systems of other countries, and reviews viable concepts.