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Survey shows benefits -- and costs -- of a longer life

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Survey shows benefits -- and costs -- of a longer life
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A recent nationwide omnibus survey of 1,005 American adults shows although knowledge about long-term care insurance is increasing, barriers are still in place that are preventing purchase. Both the perceived high cost and a lack of awareness about coverage were common themes voiced by Americans as they answered questions about long-term care planning in the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans survey.

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Consider this: life expectancy is increasing; medical technology continues to improve; baby boomers are beginning to retire. All of these issues create a perfect storm for the probability of needing long-term care, but many Americans aren't prepared for the costs - and that's where long-term care insurance could come into play.

The costs for long-term care are staggering. According to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, the average annual cost of full-time nursing home care is $76,285 for a semi-private room. Based on the average hourly rate of $21 per hour for a home health aide, eight hours of care a day is $61,320 annually.[1] To determine long-term care costs, visit https://www.thrivent.com/calculators/dinkytown/LongtermCare.html.

Those figures should motivate Americans to begin planning for long-term care, but Thrivent Financial's survey indicated that more than half of the population is still not even aware of what long-term care insurance covers.

· 24 percent of respondents say they are well-educated on the topic.

· 52 percent of respondents say they've heard about long-term care insurance, but don't know the specifics about what it covers.

· 25 percent of respondents had no knowledge about what long-term care insurance covers.

Wisdom of the ages?

Surprisingly, the younger generation seems to have a better grasp on the importance on preparing for long-term care. When asked about their current long-term care insurance ownership, as well as future plans for purchasing if it is not currently owned, 18-34 year olds answered as follows:

· 15 percent said they currently own long-term care insurance.

· 41 percent said they don't currently own long-term care insurance, but they plan to in the future.

· 44 percent said they don't currently own long-term care insurance, and they don't plan to purchase it in the future.

For the 35-54 year olds, the results showed:

· 15 percent of 35-54 year olds said they currently own long-term care insurance.

· 25 percent of 35-54 year olds said they don't currently own long-term care insurance, but they plan to in the future.

· 60 percent of 35-54 year olds said they don't currently own long-term care insurance, and they don't plan to purchase it in the future.

Finally, for those ages 55 and up, the results showed:

· 17 percent of those ages 55+ said they currently own long-term care insurance.

· 17 percent of those ages 55+ said they don't currently own long-term care insurance, but they plan to in the future.

· 66 percent of those ages 55+ said they don't currently own long-term care insurance, and they don't plan to purchase it in the future.

Barriers to purchasing long-term care insurance

The Thrivent Financial survey asked respondents to identify reasons for not purchasing long-term care insurance. The responses indicated:

· 51 percent of respondents thought long-term care insurance is too expensive.

· 24 percent of respondents didn't know what long-term care insurance was.

· 10 percent of respondents said it didn't apply to them and that they could pay on their own.

· 8 percent of respondents didn't believe the provider of the long-term care insurance would pay.

· 7 percent of respondents said they won't need it because they have family members that will care for them and help pay for care.

If a 50-year-old person purchases a long-term care insurance policy with a monthly benefit of $5,000 for a 36-month period, the average cost would be about $1,050 annually.[2] If a person pays for the long-term care insurance for 20 years before eventually needing to use the policy, an amount of $21,000 would be paid in premiums. This cost is minimal compared to three-years of long-term care, either in a home setting or in a long-term care facility, according to insurance experts.

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