The number of U.S. residents who own private long term care insurance should grow more than 16% over the next 5 years.

Researchers at Claritas Inc., San Diego, a demographic data firm, are basing that forecast on analysis of private LTC insurance ownership figures.

Penetration already has reached 8.1% in the Washington market, and penetration equals or exceeds 7.3% in 9 other markets, according to the Claritas researchers.

Although the federal government’s group LTC insurance program may have helped increase LTC insurance penetration in Washington, another important factor may be the fact that 40% of the households in the market have $500,000 to $1 million in income-producing assets.

Households in that upper end of the “mass affluent” demographic group tend to be avid purchasers of LTC insurance products, the Claritas researchers note.