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Study: Medicare Should Pay More for Long-Term Care Costs

Published October 22, 2020

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The majority of Americans feel that Medicare and private health insurance companies should cover the cost of long-term care. 

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a study that found 59% of Americans believe Medicare and private health insurance should bear a large responsibility for the cost of long-term care. That’s a slight increase from 50% of respondents who answered the same in a similar study conducted in 2018. 

When it came to Medicare specifically, 56% of respondents felt the federal health insurance program should have more responsibility in covering long-term care, which was an increase from 45% of respondents in 2018.

Nearly 3 in 10 caregivers reported struggling to afford to provide care for their loved one.  

The study was conducted between Aug. 27 and Sept. 14, and included nearly 1,900 U.S. adults. 

Many Americans haven’t planned for their future long-term care

While adults increasingly feel long-term care should be better covered by Medicare and private health insurance, they are doing a worse job of preparing for their own future care needs.

More people (46%) report having done little or no planning for their own long-term care needs than in 2018 (37%). Denial has also set in, as the number of people who believe it is unlikely that a loved one will need long-term care has grown from 34% in 2018 to 43%. 

Around 17% of U.S. adults are currently providing ongoing living assistance to an aging family member or friend. 36% of those people report that their responsibilities have increased as a result of COVID-19. 

COVID-19 has increased demands on family caregivers

Some additional key findings from the study include:

  • Only 17% of people have had more conversations about long-term care as a result of COVID-19. 14% of people actually reported having fewer such conversations since the pandemic began.

  • 28% of caregivers who employed an in-home caregiving assistant have canceled the outside care as a result of the outbreak.

  • 35% of caregivers ages 18 to 39 are providing 10 or more hours of care in a week, up from 26% in 2018.

Nationwide costs for long-term care in the U.S. in 2016 included $225 per day for a semi-private room in a nursing home, $119 per day in an assisted living facility and $20 an hour for homemaker services.

Long-term care insurance plans are not offered through Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B). Long-term care insurance is most often offered as a standalone policy.

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