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AARP survey: Hawaii's 50+ not confident about long-term care cost

Published On: Feb 04 2013 11:29:46 AM HST
Updated On: Feb 04 2013 11:31:36 AM HST

A new survey exploring the views of older Hawaii residents on long-term care shows that nearly 64 percent of people ages 50 and above are not confident they can afford to pay for one year in a nursing home, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.

Fifty percent of respondents say they are not confident they can afford the cost of care for one year in their home.

Click here for the full AARP report.

The survey of 800 residents statewide -- more than half of whom reported annual household income of less than $75,000 -- is the latest evidence that many residents are unsure how they’ll pay for their care needs as they get older.

The survey indicates that while nearly six in ten older residents, or 59 percent, believe it is likely they will need some form of care in the future, less than 40 percent say they have the personal savings or insurance coverage to help cover their costs.

The findings point to an elder care crisis in the making as the vanguard of island boomers approaches their 70s and the cost of long-term care extends beyond the reach of many.

“There’s a growing realization among many residents that they lack the means to pay for costs associated with their aging,” said Stuart Ho, former chair of the Hawaii Long-Term Care Commission which last year delivered a dire assessment of the state’s long-term care system to the Legislature along with numerous recommended reforms. “At the same time, many older adults are apparently in denial about who will provide the care they’ll likely need and how they’re going to pay for it.”

The following is among the key findings of the survey:

  • 74 percent of residents agree with the statement, “I do not want to depend on my family or friends for my long-term care needs.” Yet nearly half of those surveyed (49 percent) also agree with the statement, “My family or friends will take care of me if I need long-term care.”
  • Among the sources of payment residents believe they will rely on most to pay for long-term care are Medicaid (21 percent), personal savings and assets (17 percent), long-term care insurance (16 percent), and Social Security (12 percent).
  • Among residents who said they do NOT have a private long-term care insurance policy, the most frequently cited reason (38 percent) was that coverage is too expensive.
  • In response to whether they would support or oppose the establishment of a mandatory public long-term care insurance program for working residents, more than twice as many (59 percent) respondents said they would support than were opposed (27 percent).

At the Legislature this session, lawmakers are considering just such a proposal at the recommendation of the Long-Term Care Commission.  Senate Bill 104 calls for the appropriation of funds to conduct an actuarial study of a mandatory long-term care insurance program for Hawaii workers, which would be paid for by worker premiums rather than with state general revenues.

Given the relatively low number of residents covered by private long-term care insurance (approximately 12 percent), AARP Hawaii supports SB 104 as a potentially promising response to the state’s elder care dilemma.

AARP also supports a separate bill that would appropriate funds for public education and awareness about the high cost of long-term care.

The new long-term care survey was conducted by telephone Nov. 9 through 26, 2012, with Hawaii residents age 50-plus, 56 percent of whom were not AARP members.  More than 40 percent of residents surveyed were between 50 and 59 years old. The survey breaks responses down by county and has a margin of error of ± 3.5 percent.

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