More people want Medicare to cover long-term care; less personal planning occurring, poll shows

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The percent of older Americans supporting Medicare coverage of long-term care has grown significantly since 2013, according to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The boom corresponds to a similar drop the percentage of older Americans who feel confident they will be able to pay for ongoing living assistance on their own.

The poll, which surveyed Americans 40 and older, found that 56% percent supported Medicare coverage of long-term care — compared to just 39% who supported it in 2013. At the same time, the percentage of older Americans who said they felt “extremely/very confident” or “somewhat confident” in their financial ability to pay for ongoing living assistance fell from 67% to 53%.

About two-thirds of older Americans in the recent poll said that they have done little or no planning for their long-term care needs. That's up from 53% in 2016 but about the same as in 2013 (65%).

Although Medicare does not currently cover most nursing care or home health aides, 57% of participants said they plan to rely on Medicare quite a bit or completely for their ongoing living assistance.

Poll participants also lack confidence in the country's preparation. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they believe the country is not ready for the growth of the older adult population over the next decades.

Medicare currently covers only the first 100 days of most nursing home stays. Expanded coverage is considered highly unlikely any time soon, especially with the White House calling for budget cuts and reined in Medicaid spending.

The poll was administered to 1,341 people aged 40 and older across the country.