FINANCIAL PREPAREDNESS: Few Boomers Ready for LTC Costs
A new study commissioned by the American Health Care Association indicates that on the dawn of their retirement years, most baby boomers are woefully unprepared to pay for their long term care needs and underinformed about how such care is paid for in retirement. A telephone survey of 800 adults aged 34 to 52 conducted in September 1998, and a follow-up survey in January 1999, found that 68% of respondents "know they are not financially prepared" to handle long term care costs. And while 27% "think they are covered" by long term care insurance, "very few" actually carry the coverage -- only about 6% of the elderly carry such coverage. The American Council of Life Insurance says long term care insurance policies range in cost between $30 and $440 a month per individual. As to financial assistance, 85% of those surveyed could not "name Medicaid as the primary funding source for the vast majority of nursing home residents" and slightly more than half could not "identify poverty as the criteria for qualifying for Medicaid." The study predicted that the burden of long term care is likely to fall more heavily on women. AHCA spokesperson Linda Keegan said, "This survey found that 41% of women interviewed who had been in caretaker roles had been forced to quit their jobs or take a leave of absence." Forty-six percent said they were forced to hire nursing care to help with the tasks. As for what the government should do about the pending "disaster," the survey found that 86% support President Clinton's $1,000 long term care tax credit, 82% support an education initiative for Medicare enrollees, and 58% favor making private long term care insurance available to federal employees (AHCA release, 4/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.