Looking at the Coming Changes in Long-Term Care Needs, Costs and Financing Options

Promoting long-term care policy development and debate

The nation faces an increasing need for expensive long-term care, especially for its growing elderly population. From 2001 to 2007, researchers at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute produced and commissioned a range of studies on long-term-care needs, costs and financing options.

Key Findings:

  • People currently turning 65 will need long-term care for three years on average.
  • The need for long-term care—and the financial and personal burdens it entails—will be distributed very unevenly.

Key Conclusions:

  • Absent policy changes, the use of private long-term-care insurance will likely grow, but the public safety net may deteriorate under the pressure of growing demand.
  • Policy changes can improve and expand private insurance, but the benefits will accrue largely to the top income tier.
  • Spreading risk across the broad population will require public insurance.
  • The gaps left by any strategy to improve either private or public insurance will require the nation to maintain an adequate safety net.