The Future of Long-term Care

The financing needs of long-term care will multiply

At present, the public sector of Estonia spends more than 100 million euro per year on long-term care, but during the next 50 years, the annual need for providing long-term care services may increase to nearly 900 million euro (if expenses are calculated on the basis of today’s level of prices and wealth), the OECD predicts. Estonia’s possibilities were discussed at the Foresight Centre web seminar “Long-term care: where to find the money for it?”, held on 3 June.

“22% of the people of Estonia help or take care of a person with a long-term health problem or disability, or an aged person,” Head of Research of the Foresight Centre Lenno Uusküla said. “In comparison with other OECD countries, Estonia contributes very little to long-term care – only 0.4% of GDP, while the average of the OECD countries is 1.7%. In order to reach an equal level, Estonia’s expenses on long-term care should reach 460 million euro per year.” 

Uusküla pointed out that, in Estonia, nearly 80% of the costs for long-term care were borne by the persons needing assistance and their close ones. “People who need assistance and their families are experiencing difficulties already now, and with the ageing of the population, the deficit will increase even more,” he added. According to the estimation of the OECD from 2020, the need for financing long-term care in Estonia may rise to 3.3% of GDP in the coming 50 years, which at today’s level of wealth and prices would mean an expenditure of around 900 million euro.

Estonia’s possibilities for solving this task were discussed at the Foresight Centre web seminar “Long-term care: where to find the money for it?”, held on 3 June.

 Participants of the discussion were: 

  • Tamara Konetzka, Louis Block Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Chicago, spoke of the private insurance-based long-term care system in the US in her report “Long-Term Care Financing in the United States”. 
  • Research Economist and Senior Adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Anton Braun, who discussed the challenges of voluntary private insurance in the USA and why so few people insured themselves against the large expenses relating to long-term care in his report “Insurance Arrangements for Long-Term Care Risk”. 
  • Professor of the University of Helsinki Niku Määtänen, who spoke of the possibilities of the state to support the private sector in providing long-term care insurance in his report “Combining Private and Public Financing of Long-Term Care”. 
  • Chair of the Estonia 200 Party Kristina Kallas and Member of the Riigikogu Jürgen Ligi commented the topic. The discussion was moderated by Lenno Uusküla, Head of Research of the Foresight Centre. 

Watch the video!

One of the study projects of the Foresight Centre in 2021 is “The Future of Long-term Care”, which maps potential development scenarios on how to organise caring for people who need daily assistance in the most effective way in an ageing society.

The Foresight Centre is a think tank at the Chancellery of the Riigikogu that analyses long-term developments in society and the economy. The Centre conducts research projects to analyse the long-term developments in Estonian society, and to identify new trends and development directions.

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