Legislation Addressing Long-Term Care: An Urgent Matter
Virtually all demographic trends in the United States point to large future increases in the demand for long-term care services and support. By 2050, an estimated 27 million people will need long-term care support.
- The population over 65 will almost double by 2050.ii The population age 85 or older is set to double between 2015 and 2032, and triple by 2050. This aging population will outpace the number of working-age family members who can help seniors financially or with unpaid care.iii
- Disability is highly related to age, so the projected growth in the elderly population suggests a large increase in the need for long-term care services. It’s projected that more than half of Americans turning 65 today will have a long-term need for constant attendance, averaging $266,000 per person for about 2 years of serious self-care services.iv Millions of older adults, approximately 14%, will need services for more than 5 years.v
- New generations of American seniors have fewer caregivers and more complex illnesses, each causing more serious disability.vi Seniors who live longer have longer spells of need and higher financial burden from disability, plus they have less family support.vii
Studies indicate that Medicaid is the dominant source of payment for long-term care costs and its share has increased over the past 20 years, while the individual share has decreased. In 2019, an estimated $426.1 billion was spent on long-term care services and support.viii
- A typical senior can afford only about 12 months of nursing home care, assisted living care, or extensive home care using their financial wealth.ix Once an individual exhausts their financial assets, they can become eligible for Medicaid, a jointly funded federal-state health care assistance program for low-income individuals.
- It’s estimated that 1 in 5 seniors will end up impoverished, using Medicaid to cover their long-term care costs.x
- Approximately a third of Medicaid outlay goes to provide long-term care services and support.xi
View print-friendly PDF here.