Series examines the ways in which the financial and emotional toll of providing and paying for long-term care are wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of Americans.
November 15, 2023 - On Tuesday, KFF Health News and The New York Times published the first phase of an investigation into America’s long-term care crisis, which has left many in the boomer generation facing the prospect of exhausting their financial resources as the price tag for care explodes. Dying Broke, the investigative series, uses KFF polling, original analysis and interviews with experts and impacted individuals and their families to examine the challenges facing families and caregivers in navigating long-term care.
The financial and emotional toll of providing and paying for long-term care is wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of Americans. Paid care, either at home or in a facility, is often so expensive that only the wealthy can afford it, and many of the for-profit companies providing care raised their prices sharply during the pandemic. The ongoing shortage of health care workers is also worsening the situation.
The project found that nearly three million older Americans who need long-term help are not receiving it, in large part because of the high costs of assisted living facilities, nursing homes and aides at home. The United States spends less on long-term care than do most wealthy countries. As part of this project, KFF conducted polling to help shed light on the U.S. public’s awareness of, attitudes about and experiences with long-term care services and supports.
The series tells the stories of some of the many people who must drain their lifetime savings to pay for care as well as the stories of the spouses and children, particularly daughters, who must make tremendous sacrifices to provide care. The first articles appear today on kffhealthnews.org and nytimes.com.
“There’s a reason this topic is a staple of so many family Thanksgiving dinner conversations,” said Jordan Rau, a senior correspondent at KFF Health News. “The kinds of no-win choices facing the people and their families we profile in these articles are ones that can happen to anyone—and too often do.”
“In interviewing many families with aging relatives, I was struck by how woefully unaware people are of how much long-term care can cost,” said Reed Abelson, health care reporter at The New York Times. “Many are amazingly resilient in finding ways to get care for their loved ones, but the lack of available help means people are often making tremendous sacrifices, both financially and emotionally, to provide support.”
The series includes reporting from Jordan Rau, senior correspondent at KFF Health News; Reed Abelson, health care reporter at The New York Times and JoNel Aleccia, formerly at KFF Health News. Holly K. Hacker, KFF Health News’ data editor, and Albert Sun, a graphics editor at The New York Times, conducted data analysis.
About The New York Times
The New York Times Company is a trusted source of quality, independent journalism whose mission is to seek the truth and help people understand the world. With more than 10 million subscribers across a diverse array of print and digital products — from news to cooking to games to sports — The Times has evolved from a local and regional news leader into a diversified media company with curious readers, listeners and viewers around the globe. Follow news about the company at NYTCo.com.
About KFF and KFF Health News
KFF Health News is an award-winning news service with a national newsroom in Washington, D.C., and a rapidly growing network of regional bureaus in California, the Midwest, the Mountain States, and the South. It is the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism, with a mission to serve as a nonpartisan source of information for policymakers, the media, the health policy community, and the public. KFF Health News is one of four core programs at KFF and an important contributor to the field of journalism.
KFF Health News works with many editorial partners, and media outlets can publish its stories at no charge. KFF Health News also publishes stories on kffhealthnews.org and promotes them through its social media platforms. KFF Health News journalists are available for interviews about their stories. News organizations interested in working with KFF Health News should contact the news service at KHNPartnerships@kff.org, and those interested in helping to expand and improve health journalism around the country should contact KFF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About KFF’s Polling
The survey, The Affordability of Long-term Care and Support Services, was designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF. Conducted May 5 -14, 2022 online and by telephone, the survey includes a nationally representative sample of 1,573 U.S. adults (1,502 in English and 71 in Spanish). The margin of sampling error – including the design effect for the full sample – is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For results based on other subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.