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Marcy, who won a bronze medal last year, this year won a silver. But Goldsmith says the Rolins are more likely the exception than the rule when it comes to the physical state of the boomer generation. And even though people talk a good game in terms of exercise, it's not clear the numbers actually support it. Another expensive need in older age is long-term care, including care in a nursing home, assisted-living facility, or home care. The good news is that when it comes to long-term care, the boomers are considerably more aware of the possibility of the crushing cost than previous generations have been.

More than two-thirds said they were very or somewhat likely to have trouble paying for long-term care if they or a spouse needed it. That's slightly more than the three-fifths who feared they might have trouble paying overall medical bills.

Retirement and Long-Term Care | Lambert's Health Care

Judy Feder, a public policy professor at Georgetown University and an expert on long-term care, says she's not surprised that after decades of trying to educate the public on the need to prepare people for the cost of long-term care, the message is finally getting through. That's true of Jason Mitchell, 53, of Rockville, Md.

One thing people don't recognize very well, however, is who pays for long-term care.


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In the poll, a majority of those both retired and not-yet-retired thought Medicare, private savings and private insurance would be the primary payers if they needed nursing home stays longer than days. In fact, the primary payer for nursing home care across the nation is the joint federal-state Medicaid program. Yet that was identified as the most likely payer for their own long-term nursing care by only 7 percent of retirees and 10 percent of not-yet-retired boomers.

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That's a potentially dangerous problem, says Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health, who worked on the poll, particularly as elected officials grapple with budget shortfalls at both the federal and state levels, and Medicaid is a key target. Copyright NPR Skip to main content.

The Long Baby Boom An Optimistic Vision for a Graying Generation

Close close Donate. We're all going to have serious health problems in retirement, and eventually really serious health problems. Goldsmith and other geriatrics experts say this gap between boomers' personal health expectations and retirement realities is what's driving Medicare and Medicaid costs sky high. It's also just more proof of the need for people to take better care of themselves in their working years, so they can go into retirement in good health with realistic hopes of living a long and healthy life.

NPR: Baby Boomers’ ‘Delusions’ About Health In Retirement

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