America, as we know it, is changing. There were 55 million Hispanics in the United States in 2014, accounting for 17.3 percent of the total population. This population will more than double to over 110 million and, as a group, Hispanics will account for 21 percent of the U.S population age 65 and older by 2060. These demographic changes have important implications for meeting the needs and preferences for individuals who need long-term services and supports (LTSS) — assistance with self-care and household tasks — and supporting family caregivers who provide the bulk of this care.
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research recently released a report on Hispanics’ attitudes and experiences with LTSS in America. This report is part of a series of studies exploring attitudes and personal experiences with LTSS in the United States. The 2015 study included 1,735 interviews with a nationally representative sample of adults age 40 and older, including oversamples of 419 Hispanics.
Here are five key takeaways from the report:
- The majority of Hispanics age 40-plus in the survey anticipate needing help with LTSS — eating, dressing, bathing, cooking, getting around, etc. In fact, 59 percent of Hispanics age 40-plus expect to need LTSS in the future, which is similar to other racial and ethnic groups. Hispanics with prior experience in providing, receiving and financing LTSS were more likely to report needing LTSS in the future relative to those without this experience. Hispanics who rated their health as poor or fair were more likely to expect needing LTSS.
- While a majority of Hispanics age 40-plus expect that they will need care in the future, similar to other racial and ethnic groups, few took the necessary actions to plan for their future LTSS needs. Nearly 6 in 10 Hispanics have done little to no planning, compared with 12 percent that have done a great deal or quite a bit of planning for their future LTSS needs. Nearly half (47 percent) of Hispanics compared with 32 percent of non-Hispanics said they were concerned about not planning enough for their future LTSS needs.
- Educational attainment and income are associated with increased planning for LTSS. Hispanics age 40-plus with more than a high school education are more likely than those with a high school degree to have discussed their LTSS preferences with their families, looked into private long-term care insurance or sought out information on LTSS and other aging issues. Those with household incomes of at least $50,000 are more likely to report having done some planning for their LTSS needs relative to those with less than $50,000.
- Confidence in the ability to pay for the cost of LTSS is of great concern. The typical cost of LTSS per year in a nursing home is about $91,250, and $43,200 for assisted living. The survey found that 40 percent of Hispanics compared with 29 percent of non-Hispanics lacked confidence that they would have the financial resources to pay for their future LTSS needs.
- Hispanics age 40-plus are supportive of several policies designed to reduce the financial burden of LTSS:
- Seventy-one percent support tax breaks to encourage savings and 67 percent support tax breaks for purchasing private long-term care insurance.
- Sixty-seven percent of Hispanics are supportive of a government-administered long-term care insurance program.
In closing, the United States lacks a national social insurance program, the private long-term care insurance market is not functioning well, and Medicaid, while the predominate payer of LTSS, is not an optimal approach for addressing the financing challenges ahead. Hispanics are a growing segment of our population, but this group is not alone in trying to figure out how best to pay for LTSS. These findings point to a broader need to raise awareness about the risk of needing LTSS and why we need a range of innovative and bold solutions to meet people’s needs and preferences as they age.
Photo courtesy of iStock
Jean Accius is vice president of livable communities and long-term services and supports for the AARP Public Policy Institute. He works on Medicaid and long-term care issues.