Two-thirds of Californians unprepared for costs of elder care

Dec 7, 2011

Two-thirds of middle-aged Californians worry that they won’t be able to cover the enormous cost of nursing home care – now over $70,000 a year – and Latinos in particular feel vulnerable, according to a report the SCAN Foundation and UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research.

The researchers examined how middle-aged voters are preparing for health and long-term care issues. The number of Californians age 60-plus will nearly double to 12 million people in the next 25 years.

Regardless of political party or income level, survey participants “were worried about the costs of growing older,” says the UCLA summary. “Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents said that they are apprehensive about being able to afford long-term care. Sixty-three percent worry as much about paying for long-term care as they do about paying for their future health care.” Medicare does not pay for most long-term care.

Overall, a whopping 85 percent of all voters said they have no long-term care protection, such as insurance or eligibility for supportive services, including in-home care. Sixty-one percent of voters with household incomes over $75,000 said they worry about covering these costs.

Latinos Especially Vulnerable

Among key findings are that two-thirds of those surveyed said they could not afford three months in a nursing home (now averaging about $6,000 per month). Nearly nine of 10 (88 percent) of Latinos surveyed said they could not pay for such care.

In fact, while six in 10 of those surveyed said that they worry they won’t have enough income to make financial ends meet, 84 percent of Latinos said they fear that scenario.

More than half of Latinos surveyed – significantly more than whites, Asians and African Americans -- said they have cut back on saving for retirement in the past year. And nearly half had to borrow money from a family member or friend, or received monetary assistance from them in some way.

Source: California Progress Report, “Two-Thirds of Californians Unprepared for Costs of Elder Care,” by Paul Kleyman for New America Media, August 21, 2011.