Seniors need education about long-term care and its costs

If you expect more current and future seniors to be able to pay for the services you offer, you may want to get involved in educating them about the costs associated with long-term care. And while you’re at it, providing some education about the quality and benefits of those services might help you, too.

A new survey by the Nationwide Financial Retirement Institute finds that more than 70 percent of the affluent baby boomers polled wrongly believe that long-term care (LTC) costs will be covered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when they retire. The survey also finds that, although aging in place remains a priority for this population, most haven’t saved or planned enough for that goal.

“Neither the [ACA] nor Medicare will help America’s workers pay their [LTC] costs,” says John Carter, president and chief operating officer of retirement plans for Nationwide Financial. “Virtually no one wants to end up in a nursing home, but few are planning for [LTC] costs. And if they have to rely on Medicaid, they may not have a choice.”

In fact, 54 percent of respondents say they would rather die than live in a nursing home, a clear opportunity for enhanced offerings and marketing efforts by skilled nursing providers.

Other findings of the poll, for which Harris Interactive involved 801 Americans aged more than 50 years with at least $150,000 in household income:

  • Survey participants anticipate that their yearly LTC costs will be, on average, $36,220. (That amount is less than half of what they estimated in 2012.) The reality is that by 2030—when the youngest baby boomers will turn 66—the annual cost of a nursing home (admittedly just one form of long-term care) is expected to reach $265,000.
  • 71 percent of respondents say they want to receive LTC in their own home, but fewer than half think they actually will do so. Forty percent think they will end up in an assisted living facility, and 10 percent think they will be in a nursing home.
  • 78 percent of poll-takers say that when they hear the term long-term care, they think of nursing home care. In reality, 27 percent of long-term care takes place in nursing homes, whereas almost 50 percent occurs at home and 24 percent happens in adult day care.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70 percent of Americans aged more than 65 years will need long-term care at some point.

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Topics: Executive Leadership , Leadership