The government and private insurance should not only assume larger roles in paying for long-term care, but policies should be enacted to help older adults prepare for those costs, according to a new study.
The “Support for Greater Government Role in Health Care for Older Adults” study from the Associated Press-NORC Center of Public Affairs found bipartisan support for a host of policies to help pay for the costs of long-term care and caregiving, many of which would involve an expanded role for the federal government.
Support for long-term care
According to the poll, American adults think that private health insurers (60% of respondents) and the Medicare program (57%) should have a larger responsibility for paying for the costs of long-term care. Fifty-three percent of respondents said the same about the Medicaid program, whereas 26% said that responsibility should be on the shoulders of individuals and 23% said it should be on families.
Older adults especially support policies to help pay for the costs of long-term care; 83% of respondents said they support long-term care coverage through Medicare Advantage or supplemental insurance, 78% said they support employer long-term care insurance plans, 75% support tax breaks for buying long-term care insurance, 73% support government funding for low-income people to receive long-term care in their homes, 72% support non-taxable funds to pay long-term care insurance premiums, and 69% support a government-backed long-term care insurance program.
Broad support also was seen for expanding Medicare into new areas of coverage, including long-term care (81%), dental care (87%), eye exams (87%) and hearing aids (86%).
Overall, 66% of respondents said that it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have health insurance coverage. Interestingly, 73% of respondents aged 18 to 49 agreed with that statement, whereas 58% of respondents aged 50 and older agreed. The study found that 47% of the older respondents were more supportive of government policies that address the costs of care, whereas 38% of the younger adults were more supportive of universal healthcare coverage.
Most respondents (62%) said they believe that paying more in taxes to keep healthcare less expensive is worth the tradeoff.
Majorities of respondents indicated support for changes to the American healthcare system that involve increasing government involvement. More than half (58%) support a public option for buying health insurance through the government. More than two-thirds (68%) said they favor requiring government and private insurance plans to cover telehealth, and 80% said they support allowing the federal government and private insurance to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
At the same time, public satisfaction with the state of healthcare overall and for older adults appears to be low, with just 12% of respondents agreeing that healthcare in general is handled “very” or “extremely” well in the United States. Even fewer agreed that healthcare for older adults (11%), community support and resources for older adults (11%) and quality of care at nursing homes (6%) is handled well.
A majority of adults expressed support for the government’s investment in COVID-19 care, including treatments (69%), vaccines and boosters (67%) and testing (64%), but many also said they worry about the country’s ability to confront another pandemic. Just 13% of respondents said they think the country is extremely or very well prepared to handle a future public health emergency.
The AP-NORC Center study was funded by the SCAN Foundation and included 1,505 interviews with adults between July 28 and Aug. 1.