Lack of information prevents long-term care planning even for those with high incomes, SCAN report finds

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Bruce Chernof, M.D., president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation, Long-Term Care Commission member
Bruce Chernof, M.D., president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation, Long-Term Care Commission member

Americans who are earning high incomes often do not plan sufficiently for their long-term care needs, according to a new report from the SCAN Foundation and Langer Research Associates.

Among people earning more than $100,000 a year, only about half say they have planned financially for their long-term care needs, according to the report. And any planning usually does not involve long-term care insurance, which has been purchased by only 17% of this high earners group.

Lack of information is deemed a major factor contributing to this scenario. If people have access to information on aging issues, their chances of taking a variety of planning steps increases by double-digit margins, the researchers found.  This planning includes setting money aside, but also creating an advanced directive and discussing care preferences with loved ones.

Those who have provided long-term care to a loved one are much more likely to plan for their own future needs, according to the report. However, anxiety prevents about 30% of those 40 and older from thinking about their long-term care needs. This anxiety stems from a variety of sources, such as fears about becoming isolated or burdening family members, or stress from lack of financial resources. Among those earning less than $50,000 a year, only about 20% have saved money for living assistance as they age, researchers said.

The report is based on an analysis of information from an Associated Press-NORC survey released earlier this year.

SCAN Foundation President Bruce Chernof chairs the Congressional Commission on Long-Term Care. It's charge is to make policy recommendations on how to improve the U.S. long-term care system. The commission will complete its three-chapter report next month.