Seniors' confidence in their ability to pay for LTC services is dropping. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

Older baby boomers may be starting to get the message that paying for long-term care (LTC) could be difficult.

Experts at the National Council on Aging (NCOA), Washington, have come to that conclusion in a report the group conducted together with UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn. (NYSE:UNH), and USA Today.

The sponsors of the report commissioned a telephone survey of 2,250 U.S. residents ages 60 and older that took place from May 10 through June 6.

About 8% of the survey participants are already getting LTC services, and 56% of the participants who are getting LTC services said paying for the services is easy. About 18% are getting LTC services “for free,” and 24% said paying for the services is difficult.

About 60% of the participants ages 70 and older who are not using LTC services said they are very or somewhat confident that they will be able to afford any LTC services that they need, and only 28% are “not very confident” or “not at all confident” about their ability to pay for the services.

Participants in the 60-64 were more pessimistic about LTC affordability. Only 50% of the participants in that age group are very or somewhat confident about their ability to pay for LTC services, and 38% are not very or not at all confident. 

The survey team also asked about other senior health and financial planning topics, such as use of Medicare.

The team found that:

  • 90% of participants ages 70 and older get their medical benefits through Medicare.
  • 59% of the participants ages 70 and older, 70% of the participants ages 65 to 69, and 58% of the participants ages 60 to 64 are confident that they will continue to be able to afford their Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-payments.