Study: Americans Unprepared for LTC Needs

December 6, 2002 ( While many Americans fret about how to pay for long-term care when they grow old, few have taken steps to deal with that problem, an insurance company study finds.

According to the survey sponsored by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, a Minneapolis-based insurer, 71% of those polled said they’re concerned they personally might need long-term care in their golden years.

However, the Allianz survey found that only 21% have a long-term care policy in place even though seven in ten of respondents called such coverage important to their family’s financial security.

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Despite their failure to prepare for the possibility of needing long-term care, most survey respondents understood that they could not count on Medicare to pay for it.

Some 60% said they realize that Medicare is not likely to cover costs of their care, even if they can’t afford to insure themselves. One-fourth of the respondents believed that Medicare would pay if they can’t.

Care By Family Members?

The study found that a large majority of people has had close experience with the need for long-term care. Approximately three-fourths (74 %) of respondents said they have had a family member who required someone to care for them.

Respondents were split on the question of whether family members should provide long-term care, with about 40% saying they expect family members to care for them, and nearly 60% saying they do not expect family members to provide care.

Other study findings included:

  • nearly 60% of those who had purchased long-term care coverage said they did so to pay for the cost of a nursing home or in-home care worker
  • when asked who took care of a family member that needed care, 60% said the family and 40% said it was provided by a professional care service
  • women are more likely to express worry over needing long-term care than men (47% vs. 34%).

The Allianz Life Report on American Priorities: Long-term Care Snare survey was conducted in July 2002 by Volkart May & Associates. The survey was fielded among 800 Americans ages 40 to 70.