CHICAGO, May 30, 2018 —Over half of Americans age 40 and older are comfortable using a live video service like Skype for a medication consultation or for ongoing management of a chronic condition, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey also found that 88 percent would be comfortable using telemedicine to receive care, though 50 percent are very concerned that telemedicine could lead to lower-quality care.
The need for long-term care services is expected to dramatically increase over the coming decades, as the U.S. population of adults age 65 and older is projected to nearly double. This raises important questions around how to fund and provide quality long-term care services and support.
“While there is some optimism regarding the role technology will play in providing access to care overall, this survey paints quite a pessimistic picture about long-term care. Only 17 percent of older adults are very or extremely confident that they will have the financial resources to pay for long-term care,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “Just 24 percent are confident that Social Security will continue to provide the same level of benefits in five years. Only 21 percent are confident in Medicare and 13 percent in Medicaid.”
Key themes and findings from this study include:
- Adults age 40 and older are just as likely as those age 18 to 39 to say they would be comfortable using at least one form of telemedicine, but they are slightly less comfortable communicating by text message for an urgent health concern compared to younger adults (22 percent vs. 29 percent).
- Support for telemedicine is high among informal caregivers. Eighty-seven percent of current caregivers age 18 and older say they would be comfortable using at least one form of telemedicine for their older loved one.
- When it comes to concerns around telemedicine, 47 percent of adults age 18 and older are concerned about receiving low-quality care, 39 percent are concerned about the security of their health information or technical issues, and 31 percent have concerns about privacy when communicating with their health care provider.
- Just 35 percent of adults age 40 and older are able to correctly estimate that 7 in 10 Americans will need some form of long-term care as they age, while 54 percent underestimate the figure and 11 percent overestimate it.
- When it comes to informal sources of support, 37 percent of older adult caregivers rely on their family — and 15 percent on friends — quite a bit or a great deal. In terms of more formal support sources, a quarter rely on health care providers and fewer depend on government programs or faith-based organizations. Hardly any make use of social media or online support communities.
- Although Social Security is adjusted for inflation, just 24 percent of older Americans are confident that Social Security benefits will remain at their current level in five years. Twenty-one say the same about Medicare, and just 13 percent say the same about Medicaid.
- Although few older adults have long-term care insurance, 84 percent of them say employers should offer long-term care insurance to employees as a workplace benefit.
- The most popular long-term care policy proposal to help finance long-term care is giving people the ability to get some long-term care coverage through a Medicare Advantage or supplemental insurance plan, as authorized by the CHRONIC Care Act, favored by 81 percent of older adults.
Since 2013, The AP-NORC Center has conducted annual surveys investigating older Americans’ experiences and attitudes regarding long-term care to contribute data to help policymakers, health care systems, and families address this issue. For the first time, this year’s study also explored the perspectives of younger adults, those age 18 to 39, generating new insights on their views of long-term care and personal experiences with caregiving. In this report, the first section on views toward telemedicine includes findings for all adults—those age 18 to 39 and those age 40 and older. The rest of the report focuses on the trends for older Americans—those age 40 and older. The results comparing younger and older Americans are detailed in a separate report.
About the Survey
This study, funded by The SCAN Foundation, was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Data were collected using AmeriSpeak®, NORC’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population. During the initial recruitment phase of the panel, randomly selected U.S. households were sampled with a known, non-zero probability of selection from the NORC National Sample Frame and then contacted by U.S. mail, email, telephone, and field interviewers (face-to-face). The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97 percent of the U.S. household population. Those excluded from the sample include people with P.O. Box only addresses, some addresses not listed in the USPS Delivery Sequence File, and some newly constructed dwellings. Of note for this study, the panel may exclude recipients of long-term care who live in some institutional types of settings, such as skilled nursing facilities or nursing homes, depending on how addresses are listed for the facility. Staff from NORC at the University of Chicago, The Associated Press, and The SCAN Foundation collaborated on all aspects of the study.
Interviews for this survey were conducted between March 13 and April 5, 2018, with adults age 18 and older representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Panel members were randomly drawn from AmeriSpeak, and 1,945 completed the survey—1,588 via the web and 357 via telephone. For purposes of analysis, adults age 40 and older and Hispanic older adults were sampled at a higher rate than their proportion of the population, then weighted back to their proper proportion in the survey, according to the most recent Census. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish, depending on respondent preference. Respondents were offered a small monetary incentive ($3) for completing the survey. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 3.3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. Among adults age 18-39, the margin of sampling error is +/- 6.7 percentage points. Among adults age 40 and older, the margin of sampling error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.
About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research
The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world.
The Associated Press (AP) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP.
NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective, non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge.
The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.
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