A new study shines light on challenges riddling California’s diverse aging population when it comes to long-term care in the Golden State.
More Diversity in a Graying Population
Adults age 65 and older are expected to comprise about 19 percent of California’s population by 2030. Concurrently, the state’s senior population is growing more diverse. By 2020, white residents will make up 55 percent of those age 65 and older, Hispanics will comprise 22 percent, Asians 15 percent and blacks 5 percent, according to the California Department of Finance.
In general, Californians 40 and older hold similar levels of concern on long-term care when compared to the rest of the country, according to the new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study. About a third of Californians in this age group are concerned with being alone without family or friends and 32 percent with not planning enough for care they might need as they get older.
But 37 percent of non-Hispanic whites in California are less concerned than Hispanics (55 percent) with being able to pay for the care they might need as they age, says the Long-Term Care in California report. Whites also are less concerned with being alone without family or friends nearby (23 percent versus 43 percent). Hispanics living in California are more concerned than Hispanics throughout the country about being alone as they age (43 percent versus 31 percent.)
Financing Long-Term Care
The study also found that Californians overestimate the costs of residing in an assisted living community, with 38 percent citing monthly costs greater than $4,000. Those who speak a language other than English at home are more likely to underestimate the cost of care in nursing homes and assisted living communities.
In addition, Hispanics are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to offer the correct estimates for those types of care. Similar to national findings, those 40 and older with higher education levels more accurately estimate the cost of long-term care services.
Californians also overestimate the long-term care services that Medicare will cover. Nearly four in 10 Californians believe that Medicare pays for ongoing care at a home by a licensed home health care aide.
Over six in 10 of those living in households where a language other than English is spoken say they will rely on Medicaid for long-term care, in contrast to 27 percent of those living in English-only households.
Similar to adults age 40 or older in the rest of the United States, Californians are most likely to favor tax breaks to encourage saving for ongoing living assistance expenses (79 percent), tax breaks for consumers who purchase long-term care insurance (73 percent), and the ability for individuals to purchase long-term care insurance through their employers (71 percent).
Fifty-nine percent favor a government administered long-term care insurance program, similar to Medicare. Just 36 percent favor a requirement that individuals purchase long-term care insurance.
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