An astounding 88% of Americans would prefer to receive any ongoing living assistance they need as they age at home or with loved ones, according to a new nationwide survey released this week by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Furthermore, 69% of participants reported they have done only a little or no planning for their long-term care needs, and 49% of participants over the age of 40 reported that they expect the majority of their long-term care costs will be paid by Medicare. Considering Medicare currently covers very limited long-term care costs, and the Medicare trust fund is at risk to become insolvent in the near future, 89% of participants reported that strengthening the Medicare trust fund should be a priority for the Biden administration and Congress.
The survey points to general public support for government run and funded long-term care, a system that is not currently in place. The survey shares to following public bipartisan supported policies:
- including a government-administered long-term care insurance program (60%),
- tax breaks for consumers who purchase long-term care insurance (61%),
- direct funding to allow more people with low incomes to receive care in their own home (63%), and
- the ability to get long-term care coverage through a Medicare advantage or supplemental insurance plan (70%).
There was some consideration as to whether fears of long-term care facilities due to COVID were spurring these findings, but the survey results suggest that Americans wanted to age at home or with loved ones before the pandemic, as well as after.
This survey highlights the discrepancy between knowledge of the need to prepare for long-term care needs, and actual preparation. It also highlights a desire to see government intervention in the long-term care space, despite concerns over the risk of the Medicare trust becoming insolvent. These unknowns leave much room for speculation as to what legislation may be introduced in the coming years, especially if the Biden administration continues to be pushed to prioritize the Medicare trust. However, even if the current administration prioritizes addressing the potential insolvency of this fund, it would not provide a direct path to government-covered long-term care.*
The nationwide poll was conducted of 1,113 adults March 25 and March 29, using the AmeriSpeak Omnibus®, a monthly multi-client survey using NORC’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of U.S. households. Recipients of long-term care who live in some institutional types of settings, such as skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes and depending on how addresses are listed for each facility, were excluded from the survey. The overall margin of error is +/- 3.7 percentage points.
The Long-Term Care Poll is a program of the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research exploring opinions and attitudes about long-term care in the United States. For more on this and other Associated Press-NORC long-term care surveys, visit www.longtermcarepoll.com.
*U.S. Congressman Thomas Suozzi (Democrat, New York’s 3rd District) has proposed legislation to create a “public-private partnership to provide long-term care insurance for older adults”, entitled the “Well-Being Insurance for Seniors to be at Home (WISH) Act.” According to Representative Suozzi, the WISH Act would allow “seniors to age at home if they wish instead of having to spend down their life savings and enter Medicaid-funded nursing homes.”