How is Hawaii doing on long term health care coverage?

Mae Dang
Mae Dang
Stuart Ho
Stuart Ho
Susan Reinhard
Susan Reinhard

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Island lawmakers recently passed legislation to look at solutions for Hawaii's lagging long term health care coverage. But will it be enough as our population ages?

Mae Dang loves her mah jong.

"Oh yeah I enjoy that game, its brain exercise," said the Honolulu resident.

She spends a lot of her time at the Moiliili Senior Center and other centers each day playing with friends.

Because this 79 year old wins a lot, this game is a safe bet for her. But when it comes to long term health care, Mae doesn't have any plans in place and is gambling with her future.

"I'm not going to worry about this. But I don't know how long I am going to stay living one day at a time," said Dang.

While the rich may have resources to pay for long term health care and the poor are covered by medicare, for the majority in Hawaii its a roll of the dice when it comes to whether they'll be able to afford it.

The golden years of island seniors can be tarnished by injury, disease or disability. Putting them in need of long term health care that comes at a high cost, too high for most in the state.

"75 percent of our population can't afford the $100,000 a year bill for nursing care. While 40 percent of those people felt that even if they weren't in a nursing home, caring for themselves at home would still be very difficult," said Stuart Ho, with AARP Hawaii.

With a rapidly aging population, this concern over Hawaii's lack of long term health care could turn into a crisis.

"Your population of age 65+ will double in the next 20 years and if you don't do something now it will be too late," said Susan Reinhard, a Senior Vice President for AARP.

Making long term care affordable is just one concern. Another is the fact that Hawaii's nursing homes are nearly full now. But a solution to this growing problem could be to increase the number of individual care homes.

Experts feel, even though the state already has over 100,000 caregivers, more, could provide the care our seniors will need.