Study: Baby Boomers on Aging, Working, Technology & Financing Long Term Care

As baby boomers age, they’re faced with more options than every previous generation when it comes to almost any issue around aging and retirement. The following data comes from a study of more than 500 baby boomers, relating their views when asked about where they want to live, how they plan to finance long term care, whether they’ll continue working after retirement, and how they use technology in their everyday lives.

Financing Long Term Care

  • 92% of boomers think funding their retirement is more important than leaving their children an inheritance. (65% say that funding their retirement means saving for long–term care.)
  • 86% of boomers feel that individuals should bear some responsibility for their long–term care costs.
  • Just over one third of respondents expected the government to pay for their long–term care, with 29% saying they expect the government to pay for their care under Medicare and 5% under Medicaid.
  • Another 37% anticipate paying with personal savings and 20% with long–term care insurance . 7% have no idea how they’ll pay.
  • 54% of boomers think long–term care insurance is difficult to understand and nearly three–fourths (73%) don’t own a long–term care insurance policy. 51% don’t purchase it because they don’t see a need for it.
  • 43% underestimate the average annual cost of nursing homes by $10,000 or more.
  • 92% of baby boomers want more options that allow people to live in their own home.
  • 86% think it is important for the government to develop new ways to help people meet long–term care costs. 49% call it a “top priority.”
  • 68% oppose making long–term care insurance mandatory like car insurance, but they want more options, including these listed below:
    • Health Insurance Option: 85% say they are more likely to purchase long–term care insurance if it were part of a basic health care policy, in which policyholders would be covered just as they would be for a hospital stay if they have health insurance.
    • Disability Insurance Option: 72% of boomers are more likely to purchase long–term care insurance if it were part of a policy that insures a person for any disability, such as an injury that occurs on a vacation.
    • Life Insurance Option: 76% of baby boomers are more likely to purchase long–term care insurance if it were part of a life insurance product where one could access its benefits for long–term care instead of distributing proceeds for heirs.
  • 89% of boomers support an option in which a person could use Medicaid dollars to pay a family member to provide care in one’s home rather than using a nursing home . (This model is currently being piloted in Vermont.)
  • 86% of boomers support a payroll tax up to $12 per month to pay for a year of guaranteed long–term care if needed.
  • 80% support a life care annuity option where in return for a single payment, a person would receive a consistent stream of income to pay for long–term care costs if necessary.
  • 80% also support tax–free accounts similar to health savings accounts where they could save up to $5,000 per year for long–term care costs.
  • 70% of boomers say they would be more likely to purchase long–term care insurance if they could preserve a portion of their assets and still qualify for Medicaid in exchange for purchasing a state–approved long–term care plan.
  • 56% say a $500 tax credit would be enough of an incentive to help persuade them to buy long–term care insurance. According to the respondents, less than $500 provides minimal incentive.
  • 55% of boomers support an option where a person is responsible for paying the first year of long–term care costs and government pays the remainder.
  • 85% favor allowing access for everyone to the state employees’ long–term care insurance plan. More than half of those in support (53%) say they still favor this option even if it requires a sales tax or income tax increase.
  • 85% of boomers would support a proposal that includes: increased tax credit for long–term care insurance, the Vermont Medicaid model, an option to purchase the same long–term care insurance available to state employees; tax credits for technology purchases that help people stay independent; and a state Web site to help citizens sort through long–term care insurance options.

Where They Want to Live

  • 93% of boomers say they will live in a home they own rather than rent when they are seniors.
  • Even if they or their spouse have a debilitating illness, 89% want to live at home; 1% want to live in assisted living and 0% want to live in a nursing home.
  • 65% want a combination of professional and family care.
  • 52% of boomers say their ideal retirement location would be rural; 37% favor a suburban setting, while only 10% favor an urban neighborhood.

Working & Retirement

  • 69% of baby boomers don’t plan to retire until they are 65 or older.
  • 14% anticipate working past age 70.
  • 46% anticipate having a full– or part–time job in retirement.
  • Respondents reported the reasons they found it important for continuing to work: to keep physically active and mentally active, 86%; to keep an income, 86%; for health insurance, 84%; for a sense of purpose and to stay connected with others, 82%; and for new challenges, 79%.

Technology

  • 85% of respondents use the Internet, with 46% using it for email, 29% using it for research and 11% for news. 71% of respondents use the Internet at home.
  • 62% plan to purchase a computer for Internet access in the next year.
  • 92% anticipate that technology will help them live longer and more independently.
  • 87% support the state funding a research and development center to assist companies in developing assistive technology that helps seniors live independently.
  • Half of boomers say they’ll pay $100 per month for technology to help them live independently. 5% percent say they’ll spend $500 per month.
  • 53% of boomers say a $500 tax credit would be sufficient incentive to persuade them to purchase technology that helps them live independently.
  • 95% of boomers feel that it would be beneficial to have a central state Web site where consumers could obtain unbiased information and easily compare and shop for long–term care insurance products.

Editor’s Note : The data above has been excerpted and abstracted with permission from The Ecumen Age Wave Study, available on Ecumen.org .