Americans’ ignorance about the cost of long term care for the elderly may be increasing.

Researchers at John Hancock Life Insurance Company, Boston, an arm of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, have published data supporting that conclusion in a summary of a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. resident ages 21 to 75.

When the researchers compared the results with results from similar surveys conducted in the 1990s, they found that the percentage of participants who say they are concerned about LTC costs has dropped to 57%, from 69% in 1997, and 85% now believe the cost of long term care could hurt their retirement income and assets, up from 76% in 1998.

Moreover, 43% of the participants said they had not planned for long term care at all, up from 24% in 1997.

The percentage of participants questioning whether Medicaid will be available has increased to 62%, from 55% in 1998.

But 47% of the participants told researchers they will pay LTC costs by qualifying for Medicaid by transferring assets to family members, up from 45% in 1997.