Poll: Nearly Half of Seniors Misinformed About Paying for Long-Term Care

Nearly half of seniors are mistaken when it comes to who pays for the costs of long-term care, according to a poll from Harris Interactive.

About 48% of adults age 65 and older mistakenly thought the bulk of long-term care costs is paid by individuals under the current long-term care system, while only 28% understood that the major funder of long-term care is actually Medicaid, notes Harris.

While perspectives differed on how long-term care is funded, survey respondents agreed on one thing: the problem of how to pay for seniors’ long-term care will only worsen.

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Of the 2,013 respondents ranging in age from 18 to 65 and older, 87% called the situation “serious” or “somewhat serious.” 

And they have the 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, referencing the estimated 12 million Americans currently in some form of long-term care that is expected to double within the next 20 years. 

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Not addressed by the Affordable Care Act, the issue related to paying for long-term care has led to fewer Americans understanding federal programs’ roles in paying these costs, such as Medicaid. 

Since Medicaid requires an individual to spend down their assets in order to receive assistance under the program, there have been fewer other options to help seniors cover the costs of long-term care. 

Private insurance that covers long-term care can be pricey, notes Harris Interactive, which revealed that based on current statistics, less than 8% of U.S. adults have bought this type of insurance.

While the Congress-appointed Long-Term Care Commission recently issued recommendations on how to improve the delivery of long-term care, the group could not reach a consensus on how to finance long-term services and supports.

With the issue of long-term care brought directly to Congress’ doorstep with the report from the Commission, long-term care could become a recurring topic for discussion among policymakers.

“How we will pay for long-term care in the future is likely to become a huge political issue,” said Harris Poll Chairman Humphrey Taylor. “The cost is already well over $200 billion and is almost certain to grow rapidly as many more baby boomers grow older.”

Written by Jason Oliva