Heads Up: A New Government Benefit May be Coming Your Way

Heads Up: A New Government Benefit May be Coming Your Way Image

As candidates running for president debate the pros and cons of Medicare (really Medicaid) - for-All, yet another radical benefit is being imagined behind the scenes: Universal Family Care.

According to a column in Forbes magazine, Universal Family Care “contemplates a lifetime of holistic supports, beginning with early child care and education, paid family and medical leave, and long-term services and supports (LTSS)—all funded through a single social insurance fund.”

The think tank which coined the term, the National Academy of Social Insurance  (NASI), groups the following types of care as Universal Family Care because family members typically offer the care to other family members:  

  • Maternity leave (paid family/medical leave).
  • Early childhood care (estimated at $10,000/year).
  • Care provided when a family member is injured or is in declining health (estimated at $7,000/year).
  • End-of-life care (potentially $250,000/person for skilled care).

Under the NASI model, Universal Family Care benefits would be designed and offered by states with funds from social insurance pools funded with new taxes.

Forbes columnist Howard Gleckman, who also contributed to the study, said, “NASI deserves praise for reimagining the social safety net as a holistic, lifetime benefit. It acknowledges, in ways that most government programs do not, the complex reality of people’s lives. Often, families are caring for young children, aging parents, and other relatives with disabilities at the same time.

“It also recognizes another reality: that there needs to be more money in the system if we are going to have the paid caregivers we need to help support family members.”

The Universal Family Care website describes the benefit this way, “Imagine … if new parents could draw on a public family care insurance fund to take paid leave to bond with their new babies and then use it pay for trusted daycare so that they can return to work. If relatives of an aging loved one could tap into that same fund to hire a home care worker so they don’t have to quit their jobs and move cross-country to provide care. If a worker could take their benefits from job to job and not wonder if taking leave or starting a business would affect their ability to care for family. That’s the future we’re building with Universal Family Care.”

The site states that there are 43.5 million unpaid family caregivers in this country and one in three people in America are in active caregiving relationships.

(NASA is a nonpartisan nonprofit.)