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TheStreet Open House

Many Boomers Think Obamacare Will Pay for Private Nursing Home Room

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Nearly three-quarters (72%) of "affluent baby boomers" believe the Affordable Care Act will pay much of their long-term heath care needs in retirement and are "not adequately planning" for long-term care costs or "not planning at all, according to data from Nationwide Insurance.

The study says only 28% of Americans over the age of 50 and who have at least $150,000 in household income know the ACA won't handle their long-term medical costs.

That is not good -- not when the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation pegs the median annual price tag for a private nursing home room (the kind someone earning more than $150,000 a year might want) at $90,520.

The federal government covers some costs, through Medicaid and Medicare (40% and 23% for post-acute care, respectively, Heritage says), but the rest comes out of the pockets of consumers, directly or through long-term care insurance payments.

What makes this particularly sad: Nationwide says 54% of boomers would "rather die than live in a nursing home," primarily because they don't want to financial burden their families.

Nationwide says that in 2012, data showed Americans expecting to pay $78,920 in annual long-term care costs. Last year their data showed boomers expected to pay only $36,220 for LTC in retirement -- even as health care costs continued to rise.

Those reduced expectations come from the ACA rollout, Nationwide says. "This drastic drop could be due to the media's focus on the Affordable Care Act and people's misconceptions about what it covers," says John Carter, chief operating officer of retirement plans at Nationwide. "The reality is we can't count on someone else to fix this problem. We will have to fund our own long-term care costs in retirement."

Right now, that's not happening, and it could lead to major problems down the road for baby boomers and for the rest of the U.S. that would foot the bill for their long-term care costs.

"Neither the Affordable Care Act nor Medicare will help America's workers pay their long-term care costs," Carter says. "Virtually no one wants to end up in a nursing home, but few are planning for long-term care costs. And if they have to rely on Medicaid, they may not have a choice."

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