Few People Concerned About the Cost of Long-Term Care
A recent study conducted by Greenwald & Associates for John Hancock Life Insurance Company reveals that Americans hold a frightening number of misconceptions about their potential need for long-term care. The survey compared current attitudes about long-term care with results of similar John Hancock surveys conducted in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Of those polled, 57% said they were concerned about long-term care costs. This was down from 69% of respondents in the 1997 survey. In addition, only 51% (as compared to 59% in 1997) expressed worry about ever needing long-term care. Interestingly enough, the current survey revealed that 64% of those polled believed they would live to age 85 versus 61% in 1998. Also, 85% of the current respondents felt that the cost of long-term care could significantly reduce their retirement income versus 76% in 1998.
However, in spite of their concern about the loss of retirement income, the researchers discovered that 69% of the respondents have done little or no planning for long-term care. This is up from 58% in 1996, and 49% in 1997. In fact, 43% have made no provisions at all, up from 34% in 1996 and 24% in 1997.
When questioned as to how they would pay for long-term care if they didn’t buy insurance coverage, 43% of those responding said they’d pay the entire cost out of pocket. This is up from 40% in 1997. But 46% felt they couldn’t afford even one year of long-term care, given their current assets.
Reactions varied when the subject of depending on the government for long-term care was asked. Most of the respondents lacked confidence in the future of Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid: 61% are not confident Social Security will be around at their retirement, up from 53% in 1998; 62% percent have no confidence that Medicare will be enough to cover their expenses, compared to 61% in 1998; and 62 percent felt that Medicaid won’t be available at all, up from 55% in 1998. Regardless of their feelings about the solvency of these federal programs, 47% said they’d pay for long-term care costs by transferring assets to family members and becoming eligible for Medicaid.
The most startling fact revealed by the study is that these unrealistic expectations about the need for long-term care and how to pay for it is not confined to any particular age group: the researchers polled 1,000 people ages 21 to 75 to obtain their results.