Few Americans Discuss LTC with Financial Advisers

Financial advisers might have ripe opportunities to talk to clients about long-term care insurance, a new survey sponsored by Genworth Financial suggests.

The overwhelming majority (91%) of respondents to the survey conducted by Age Wave/Harris Interactive said their financial professional has not broached the topic of how to fund potential long-term care costs. However, 86% of respondents said it is important for their financial professional to talk to them about long-term care. (It should be noted that many respondents, which were age 18 and over, might not need to worry about long-term care just yet.)

It’s not something Americans are busy discussing in general, even with their own families. According to the survey, 65% said that fear of upsetting family members is the biggest barrier to talking about long-term care plans.

Americans might underestimate the likelihood that they will need long-term care. Although 37% of respondents believe they will need long-term care, 67% will need long-term care after age 65, according to Genworth, citing a study by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

If Americans do need long-term care insurance, the survey shows that they might not be prepared for it. Most respondents (90%) are not very confident they will be able to pay for long-term care, making it the expense they are least confident about affording in retirement.

View of Retirement

Most Americans don’t want to sit back and do nothing in retirement. The majority (57%) of respondents to Genworth’s survey view retirement as “an opportunity for a new exciting chapter in life” (57%) rather than a time to rest or wind down. Furthermore, most people plan to work full-time (5%), part-time (27%), or go back and forth between periods of work and leisure (31%); only a little more than a third (37%) never plan to work for pay again.

Working longer is definitely the preferred option for what Americans would do if they anticipate a retirement savings shortfall (60%), followed by cutting expenses now (56%), and reducing cost of living in retirement (53%). Moving in with a family member or asking family members for support are at the bottom of the list (8% and 6%, respectively).

When asked which most closely describes their financial goals today, almost 80% of respondents said they want to save enough to have “financial peace of mind;” only one-fifth want to accumulate as much as possible. “The new financial goal is no longer to be rich; the new financial goal is having financial peace of mind,” said Age Wave’s Ken Dychtwald, a psychologist and gerontologist, in announcing the results during a Webinar today.

Americans seem to be more worried about medical expenses than outliving their money. Dychtwald noted that medical expenses “have become the major anxiety of the America public” in retirement, whether because of media coverage or people coming to terms with their situations. Close to half (45%) of respondents reported their biggest worry about financial security in retirement is medical expenses not being covered by insurance, and 21% said it is outliving their money or living longer than expected.

“America Talks: protecting Our Families’ Financial Futures Survey” was conducted online among 2,939 U.S. consumers between January 12 and 15. Genworth commissioned the survey as part of the company’s Let’s Talk campaign (see “Genworth Unveils Web Site with LTC Information”). Full results and more resources are available here.