The Emergence of Caregiver Benefits
The number of people ages 85 and older is projected to double within the next 20 years, while the number of Americans living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias is expected to double as well, to 13 million. As the aging population increases, so too does the prevalence for chronic diseases more commonly associated with older individuals.
HCG Secure, a long-term care and home healthcare product designer, partnered with the Arctos Foundation and AtotheZ Marketing to survey 40-64-year olds in households making between $75,000-150,000 to measure their preparedness to both care for a family member and to financially plan for their own futures. Tom Beauregard, CEO of HCG Secure, discusses their findings and what can be done to engage those nearing Medicare eligibility in planning for their future financial and caregiving situations.
We wanted to explore the population that is still in the workforce or recently retired, but not yet Medicare-eligible to test the hypothesis that people are often unaware of what exactly is covered under Medicare, especially when it comes to long-term care needs.
Survey responses both confirmed our theory and illuminated some darker truths: The majority of respondents were unaware Medicare does not cover assistance with daily living activities and when asked to estimate the cost of such care, respondents, on average, underestimated costs by $20,000. We also found a lack of preparedness beyond costs, with most respondents expecting the majority of their care to be administered by a family member; despite the fact this same subsect has not had any conversations with family members about wishes for care or for how such care will be financed.
Our research gives these employees and the financial and emotional burdens they face additional color and detail. Respondents with experience caring for an aging parent were more likely to anticipate a need for long-term care services and support and more likely to have had discussions about care wishes with loved ones; yet they were no more likely to have taken concrete steps toward a long-term care plan and financing care.
In a series of one-on-one interviews conducted following this survey, we were able to sit down with 10 of these respondents who indicated experience as a family caregiver. Across these interviews similar themes emerged: Individuals discussed a period of crisis, each of them having faced a medical or family emergency which catalyzed the rapid decline of a loved one. Despite descriptions of the sudden and unexpected, many individuals fail to connect the experiences of their parents to themselves, citing “good genes” and young age as reasons to put off planning.
Many of these individuals also remarked they have too few options. The high price tags of long-term care plans are out of reach, and they know they cannot finance care out-of-pocket.
The most cited piece of advice among those with caregiving experience was to prioritize planning. Seeing this inspired our team to further build out the navigation and planning resources available with all HCG Secure policies. We recently entered a partnership with Trust & Will, so our members can now afford a discounted option for getting estate plans, powers of attorney, and other care documentation plans in place.