More than one-third of Americans think Medicare will cover their LTC needs

Americans are "unaware" of how to finance their LTC needs, Chernof said
Americans are "unaware" of how to finance their LTC needs, Chernof said

Many Americans anticipate Medicare to cover their long-term care needs, including extended nursing home stays, according to the results of a survey released Thursday.

Thirty-eight percent of people surveyed as part of the 2016 Long-Term Care in America report said they plan on using Medicare to cover their care needs as they get older, despite the fact that the program does not typically cover most long-term care services and supports. Social Security checks and personal savings or investments followed as the second and third most anticipated sources of support, at 35% and 32% respectively.

Those findings mesh with previous research by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the group that conducted the survey, that found many people believe Medicare will pay for long-term nursing home stays. In 2015, 34% of people surveyed assumed Medicare would cover ongoing nursing home care, while another 27% were unsure.

Only 2 out of 10 older adults anticipate using Medicaid to finance their long-term care needs even though Medicaid ranks as the largest public payer of long-term care services, the report's authors noted, citing data from the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

“Medicare and Social Security were not built to cover long-term care costs, leaving American families unprotected, and as this survey shows, unaware of this fact,” said Bruce Chernof, M.D., president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, in a statement on the findings.

One-third of people surveyed by AP-NORC have done no planning for their long-term care needs, the results showed.

The AP-NORC survey also delved into American seniors' preferences for the type of settings in which they would like themselves or a loved one to receive long-term care. More than three-fourths said they wish to remain in their own home.

The majority of seniors surveyed are in support of policies to help people prepare for their long-term care costs, although favor as dipped slightly over the past two years, the report found. Tax breaks to encourage saving for long-term care and for purchasing long-term care insurance ranked as the most favored policies, followed by employer-sponsored programs, government-administered plans and individual requirements.