Most Misunderstand LTC Costs and Coverage, AARP Survey Finds

[This article was originally published on Dec. 26, 2006.  The links were updated on June 7, 2018.]

Most Americans are unaware of the costs of long-term care and overestimate the amount that government programs like Medicare will pay for this care, according to a new research report by AARP.

While 60 percent of those surveyed claimed to be 'somewhat familiar' with the long-term care services currently available, fewer than one in ten (8 percent) could reasonably estimate the actual costs of nursing home care. Most underestimated the cost, with some respondents guessing that such care would cost $500 or $1,000 a month. A single room in a nursing home in the U.S. costs an average $6,258 a month, or $75,000 a year, according to a 2006 survey.

In addition, 59 percent of those surveyed incorrectly believe Medicare will cover nursing home care beyond three months for age-related or chronic conditions, and 52 percent incorrectly believe Medicare covers assisted living.

AARP's report entitled "The Costs of Long-Term Care: Public Perceptions Versus Reality in 2006," surveyed 1,456 Americans age 45 and older to assess their knowledge of the costs and funding sources for nursing homes, assisted living residences and in-home care.

Interestingly, almost 30 percent of respondents reported that they have purchased long-term care insurance. In fact, industry experts believe that only about 10 percent of Americans who are 55 and older have private long-term care insurance coverage.

People who said they had a personal experience with a loved one needing long-term care did not know any more about long-term care costs that those who had no experience.

AARP spokesperson Steve Hahn said, "Most Americans are unprepared to meet the financial challenge" posed by the cost of long-term care.

For a copy of the AARP report, go to: