COVID-19 Continues to Impact Attitudes About Long-Term Care, New Survey Shows

As we continue to grapple with the effects of COVID-19 across the country, many Americans believe it is now more important than ever for people to have a long-term care (LTC) plan (88%) and LTC insurance (86%), per the 10th Annual Nationwide Retirement Institute® Long-term Care survey released in mid-November.

However, nearly half of adults across all age groups (45%) say they have not had a conversation about LTC planning with anyone and only 8% have spoken about it with a financial professional. Moreover, industry data show that only 15% of Americans (mostly older consumers) have purchased LTC insurance. The survey also revealed that many adults misunderstand what products actually provide LTC coverage because 25% of adults self-reported that they own a LTC insurance policy. Millennials are the most likely to claim that they currently own LTC insurance (39%), but most say that they bought the insurance at work, evidencing a likely misconception among adults confusing long-term disability insurance with LTC insurance. The survey thus highlights in multiple places the trend of the disparity between knowing the importance of preparing for LTC needs, and actually preparing for those needs.

The survey also provides insight into people’s concerns about where they will age, the challenges of caregiving, and the financial costs of LTC, including:

  • Consistent with other recent data demonstrating people’s desire to age at home, 85% of respondents say it is important to them to age in place, i.e., at home. But 47% of those not yet retired expressed concern that their current home will not be safe for them to age in place.
  • Seventy percent said they would like the option of relying on their family for LTC but 66% are worried that as they get older, they will become a burden to their family.
  • When it comes to paying for LTC for themselves, more say they plan to pay for LTC with Medicaid (43%) or savings (39%) than with an LTC insurance policy (30%). That result is consistent with declining sales of traditional LTC insurance policies over the past 15-20 years, since their peak sales point in the early 2000s.

Additionally, across all health care providers, the worst job losses are in the LTC industry, based on a new report out recently from the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL).1 While hospitals, physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers, and home health care services numbers are either near, at, or beyond pre-pandemic staffing levels, nursing homes and assisted living facilities continue to face increasing and ongoing staff losses. Minnesota’s governor has even gone so far as to deploy National Guard units to form skilled-nursing response teams to assist in nursing homes and other LTC facilities that are short-staffed amid the current COVID-19 surge. It remains to be seen if other states will follow.

This loss of staffing and pandemic-related fears could be a contributing factor in the increase in family and friends providing care to loved ones. The Nationwide survey shows 21% of those responding say they are currently caregivers2 and almost 40% say they have been at some point in their lives. And that comes with a cost, with many saying they are afraid expenses to cover caregiving will keep them from retiring (68% of millennials and 53% of Gen Xers). Nonetheless, 80% say they would choose to be a caregiver all over again.

Results of the Annual Nationwide Retirement Institute® survey are based on poling of 1,812 U.S. adults aged 24+ and 706 caregivers conducted by The Harris Poll in October 2021.

Learn more about the Nationwide survey.

  1. Based on October employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. For purposes of this latest Nationwide survey, “caregivers are defined as those who have ever or are now providing paid or unpaid long-term care to a friend or family member, not through an agency, business, or non-governmental organization. Those who care(d) only for a child under 18 or a child over 18 born with a disability did not qualify as a caregiver for this survey.”

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About the Author: Jamie Campisi

Jamie Campisi provides strategic guidance to clients as they navigate the legal complexities of the insurance industry. As a summer associate with the firm, Jamie assisted with a range of matters, including the development of institutional guidelines and a handbook for supporting employees undergoing a gender transition to ensure the client’s compliance with applicable laws. She served as a clerk for Justice Barry T. Albin of the Supreme Court of New Jersey prior to returning to the firm, and was a judicial extern for Chief Judge Jose L. Linares of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey during law school. Visit Jamie’s bio on the Faegre Drinker website.

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