Study: People mostly ignorant or wrong about old age health care costs

A recent study from the University of Minnesota shows that middle-aged adults underestimate the likelihood that they'll need long-term health care services as they grow older.

The study included about 12,000 responses collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. It's the largest study to focus on the issue of health care expectations.

Carrie Henning-Smith, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, said there needs to be more education around long-term health care needs and planning.

Among the findings:

• Just 40 percent of Americans age 40-65 told researchers that they expect to need long-term health care services. Actually, 70 percent of people over 65 will need those services sometime during their lives.

• Only 10 percent of respondents thought they'd need to be cared for in a nursing home, while about 46 percent of people will need nursing home care.

• People who live alone and those who have close friends or family already in long-term care were more likely to expect that they too will need the services.

• Parents are least likely to think they'll need long-term care services in the future.

• Other research on the topic has found that most people expect that Medicare will pay for their long-term care, while actually the Medicaid low-income health program pays for most of the long-term care in the country.

The state of Minnesota offers some guidance in planning for long-term health care through the Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433.

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