What Americans Don’t Get About Skilled Nursing and Medicare

Just 33% of older Americans have saved any money to pay for their own long-term care, including skilled nursing. Perhaps relatedly, most Americans believe the federal government should help pay for their care in old age, according to a recent survey.

More than half of Americans 40 and older believe the federal government should devote “a lot” or “a great deal” of effort to helping people with long-term care expenses, according to the survey of 1,341 people conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The number of Americans who hold this position has risen in recent years. About 56% of Americans polled this year believe that Medicare should play a major role in paying for ongoing living assistance; in 2013, only 39% expressed that belief.

From the looks of it, many older Americans will ultimately require some sort of assistance in paying for their long-term care, the survey results indicated.

Approximately 66% of Americans age 40 and over admitted they have done little or no planning for their own long-term care needs, and only 15% say they’re “extremely” or “very” confident that they’ll have the financial resources they require to pay for any ongoing living assistance, the survey found.

Perhaps consequently, 57% of those polled plan to depend on Medicare “completely” or “quite a bit” for their own ongoing living assistance when or if they need it, while 25% plan to depend on Medicaid.

But while most Americans plan to rely at least in part on Medicare, they don’t necessarily know how the program can and can’t help them. Medicare, for instance, does not cover long-term care at most skilled nursing facilities, AP noted.

Meanwhile, only 20% of the people polled believe that family members should shoulder a large chunk of their older relatives’ long-term care needs.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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Mary Kate Nelson
Assistant Editor at Aging Media Network
When not in the newsroom, Mary Kate can reliably be found reading on her back porch, marathoning TV shows she’s already seen or overspending at Trader Joe’s.