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What do Americans know about social care?

2016 Conference Presentation

(Inter)national systems United States

5 September 2016

What do Americans know about social care?

Galina Khatutsky, RTI International, United States


The lack of the public’s understanding of the risks of needing social care, the costs, and how public and private programs work is related to inadequate preparedness for these risks.

Using Long-Term Care Awareness and Planning Survey data, this study finds that knowledge of social care is low among those aged 40 to 70. Less than a quarter of respondents correctly estimated the average cost of nursing home and home care in their state, although 53% reported some personal social care use by relatives or friends. People tend to overestimate their longevity but underestimate their future need for services. Only about a quarter of respondents knew the government program that pays the most for social care.

Better understanding of the gaps in knowledge about social care may be a precondition to better personal and societal planning.