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Desire for long life prompts long term care concern

Armen Hareyan's picture

Most Americans would like to live well into their 80s according to a new national study released by the Pew Research Center. "Some 30 percent say they would like to live even longer," says Jesse Slome, Executive Director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. "When you live a long life you are significantly more likely to need long term care."

According to the Pew study, one in five Americans surveyed would like to live into their 90s and eight percent said they'd like to pass the century mark. The average desired life span has changed over the past 10 years the researchers point out. In a 1999 survey conducted for AARP, respondents said on average, they would like to live to be 91.

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"Some nine million Americans who are age 65 or older currently require long term care," Slome explains. "This number is expected to rise by 25 percent to 12 million by 2020." While the estimated median cost for one year in a private nursing home room is currently $74,000 it will rise to as much as $270,000 in 2039 when a 50-year-old today is most likely to need care. "That must be cause for concern," Slome says.

The majority of long term care insurance claims initiate when policyholders are in their 70s or 80s. "About 10 percent of claims begin earlier than that," the organization's director notes. "But you must purchase long term care insurance when you are still able to health qualify and that generally means your 50s."

Written by Jesse Slome from the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance