Our complex system poses 'enormous risk'

Our complex system poses 'enormous risk'

Money
HOW BEST TO FUND AGED CARE: The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has been looking at the future funding of aged care.

HOW BEST TO FUND AGED CARE: The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has been looking at the future funding of aged care.

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Make older Australians pay more for their aged care instead of passing on their wealth to their children, or make younger Australians pay more in taxes or lev...

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Make older Australians pay more for their aged care instead of passing on their wealth to their children, or make younger Australians pay more in taxes or levies.

These were two of the proposals to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's hearing on funding, financing and prudential regulation.

Former Productivity Commmissioner Michael Woods said for those who had accumulated wealth above a certain level there was little argument as to why they should be spared from drawing on their income and assets.

University of NSW economist John Piggott suggested a "hypothecated levy" could be invested in an aged care fund managed by the Future Fund.

Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry wasn't alone in saying the current system was overwhelming, and its complexity, particularly the financial arrangements, exposed people to "enormous risk".

"The aged care system is not sustainable in its current form and will not be accepted by the next generation of aged care recipients, predominantly the baby boomer generation, who are currently experiencing the system through their relatives," he said.

The introduction of a compulsory social insurance scheme now, he said, would be a "doubling up" of costs for the present generation of taxpayers who would have to pay the cost of aged care for their parents and grandparents and for themselves in the future.

Former prime minister Paul Keating suggested a HECS-style funding model where Australians were extended loans to pay for their aged care and the costs were recovered from their estates when they died. If a person did not have assets at their death, the Commonwealth would pick up the loans.

"So in other words we're not forcing anyone out of their home in old age, we're not obliging aged persons to negatively mortgage their home, you're not asking members of families to chip in and pay for their relatives in their accommodation or their care," he said. "The assets of a person maintain them in later life."

Former treasurer Peter Costello said the means-tested income and assets forms needed to be simplified.

He had attempted to fill in the forms for members of his family and suggested the royal commissioners try to do the same.

"I think there are over 100 questions and 27 pages and, you know, I think I'm reasonably financially literate," he said. "I had a lot of trouble filling it in. I don't know how a person going into a nursing home would ever be able to fill it in. We're talking about people who might be 80 or 90 years of age."

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