No plan at all: majority of Canadians ill prepared for long-term health care costs

Action needed now to close massive funding gap

TORONTO, June 21, 2012 – Three quarters of Canadians (74 per cent) admit they have no financial plan to pay for long-term care if they needed it, according to a new poll by Leger Marketing on behalf of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA).

“Canadians have not adequately prepared for their future long-term care needs,” says Frank Swedlove, President of the CLHIA. “Baby boomers are aging and unless action is taken now, they will fall well short in funding their long-term care. Governments and Canadians have to work together to help close the gap by being more effective in how long-term care is provided.”

The CLHIA estimates that it will cost almost $1.2 trillion to provide long-term care to the baby boomer generation as they pass through old age, and that current government programs and funding will only cover about half of this. The resulting $590 billion funding shortfall is the equivalent of about 95 per cent all individual registered savings plans in Canada today.

Most worrisome is that the polling also shows that 55 per cent of Canadians believe government health care programs cover half or more of the cost of their long-term care needs.

Today, the CLHIA released a policy statement setting out a number of recommendations to ensure that Canadians will have access to high quality long-term care services through old age.

Swedlove added, “Not only does the current long-term care system not have adequate capacity for our future needs, but patient care suffers as too often care is provided in inappropriate settings.” The Leger poll showed that 77 per cent would prefer to receive care in their own homes.

To address the funding shortfall, while also enhancing patient care, the CLHIA concludes that:

  • Governments can help close the funding gap by being more effective in how long-term care is provided to Canadians;
  • Canadians need incentives to take responsibility to protect themselves from the possible high long-term care costs of the future and governments can help; and
  • In order to meet the increased demand for resources, including long-term care beds, health care professionals and volunteers, the public and private sectors must work together to find solutions.

The CLHIA’s paper makes a number of detailed recommendations for the consideration of governments, stakeholders and Canadians after significant consultations with academics, professionals and industry experts.

About the Survey

The survey was completed online from June 4th to June 6th, 2012 using Leger Marketing’s online panel, LegerWeb, with a sample of 1501 Canadians.

A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of �2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

About the CLHIA

The Canadian life and health insurance industry provides a wide range of financial security products, including life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and supplementary health insurance, to about 26 million Canadians and their dependents. Established in 1894, the CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member companies account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business.