Considered one of the largest studies to focus on health care expectations, a team at the University of Minnesota found that middle-aged adults underestimate their health care costs and needs. Evaluating over 12,000 responses collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012, the team found that only forty percent of Americans believe they need long-term health care services when in actuality, seventy percent of people over the age of 65 are in need of health services.
According to Carrie Henning Smith, leading author of the study, people need to be more educated on long-term health care needs. Listed below are some of the findings:
- Only 10 percent responded they would need to be cared for in a nursing home when in actuality, around 46 percent will need this care.
- Other studies have found that most people believe Medicare will pay for their long-term care. In actuality Medicaid low-income health program pays for the long-term care in the country.
- Around three in four people believe family will provide future care.
Henning-Smith believes living arrangements is a major factor in expectations about future care needs. In general, those who live alone responded they are most likely to need care whereas those living with children responded they are not as likely to need care in the future. She believes understanding how living situations impact understanding of healthcare is important for several reasons: it may provide insight for policymakers in knowing who is and who is not planning on future care needs. Because living arrangements change over time, it is important to understand if people are responding on their current situation or what they expect in the future.
Henning-Smith believes the policymakers should be most concerned with this issue: “It’s important for them to encourage middle-aged Americans to make plans for future care needs, including discussing long-term care wishes with family members, saving money for care, and educating themselves on available care options.”
Elder Care Planning
It is important become more educated about all the different options available to you or for a loved one. In recent years, there has been a rising demand for elder care planning, also called financial gerontology. Many of the financial gerontologists assist in helping plan for retirement, investments, housing and health care options. Speaking with a planner can help determine if you or a loved one would like to plan for in-home care, assisted or nursing home living. With most people living longer, it is extremely important for middle-aged adults to understand their options as they age. It is also important for caregivers to become more knowledgeable about the options that make the most sense for an aging loved one.