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Survey: Most Americans understand the need for long-term care insurance
By Insure.com staff

Most adults understand that long-term care is expensive and often required, but a minority turn that knowledge into action and purchase long-term care insurance, according to a new survey by the nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education.

About 8 million Americans have long-term care insurance according to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance. That's a small portion compared to the 100 million Americans ages 50 and older who are most likely to need it. Long-term care insurance covers a wide range of services not typically covered by health insurance or Medicare.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates almost 70 percent of people over 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives.

"If you knew that you had a 70 percent chance of winning the lottery, you'd probably buy a bunch of tickets," Deb Newman, chair-elect of the LIFE Foundation, said in a press statement. "While it's not a perfect analogy, Americans seem to be aware that there's a significant chance that they'll need long-term care assistance at some point, and yet hardly anyone is buying long-term care insurance. Something is wrong with this picture."

The LIFE survey tested 1,000 adults about their knowledge of long-term care needs. Among the findings:

  • Most, 71 percent, believe 50 percent to 80 percent of today's 65-year-olds will need long-term care services at some point in their lives.
  • Almost two-thirds, 65 percent, think the annual cost of a private room in a nursing home is between $58,000 and $88,000. The actual average cost is $78,000.
  • Almost three-quarters of adults, 74 percent, correctly believe the average duration of long-term care is three years or longer.
  • Seventy-two percent were correct in the thinking the average age of someone purchasing long-term care insurance is between the mid-40s to mid-60s.

The foundation provides a long-term care insurance resource guide on its website.

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