Many Americans Worry About Cost of Long-Term Care

Due to the economic woes of the last several years, many people are worried about how it is they will pay for long-term care, should the need arise. More than two-thirds of Americans are concerned about how they will pay for care costs when and if the time comes. Do you have a plan in place for you or your aging loved ones? At Advocare, we work with families everyday to assess care needs and make recommendations based upon financial ability and choice of care. Visit us HERE to learn more.

Worried about how you’ll pay for long-term care in old age? You’re not alone.

A new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released Monday finds that more than two-thirds of Americans are anxious and uncertain about how they’ll meet nursing home or home care costs should they need them.

Most people were also wrong about how most of these costs are covered under the current system. About half (49 percent) mistakenly thought the bulk of the bill was paid by individuals, while one-third guessed Medicare. Only 19 percent understood that the major funder of long-term care is actually Medicaid, the government agency that covers health services for the poor.

One thing most people agree on: as America ages, the problem of how to pay for seniors’ long-term care will only get worse. Eighty-seven percent called the situation “serious” or “somewhat serious.”

They’re right to be worried, said Howard Gleckman, a fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., who focuses on long-term care issues.

“This is a huge and growing problem,” he said. There are currently about 12 million Americans in some form of long-term care, he noted, and that’s expected to double within the next 20 years.

It’s estimated that most Americans — more than two-thirds of those aged 65 and up — will need some type of long-term care, such as a nursing home, home health aide or adult “day care” center.

In the new poll, a similar percentage — 68 percent — expressed worry about how to pay for it all.

The problem of how to pay for rising costs of senior care was not addressed by the Affordable Care Act, or what some call “Obamacare.” And Gleckman said that policymakers have shown no agreement on where to go from here.

As for the general public, past research proves that few of us even know how long-term care is currently financed, Gleckman noted. And the new poll confirms that.

For example, “very few people understand Medicaid’s role in long-term care,” Gleckman said. The problem for families is that Medicaid coverage only kicks in once people have spent down their assets enough to qualify for assistance.

The other option is for people to plan in advance and buy pricey private insurance that specifically covers long-term care. The poll found that 64 percent of Americans think “most people” should buy long-term care insurance.

But thinking that something sounds good, and actually doing it for yourself are two distinct things, Gleckman pointed out. Based on current statistics, less than 8 percent of U.S. adults have bought long-term care insurance, he noted.

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