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Long-term Care Costs and The National Retirement Risk Index


  • Alicia H. Munnell
  • Anthony Webb
  • Francesca Golub-Sass
  • Dan Muldoon


Even if households work to age 65 and annuitize all their financial assets, including the receipts from reverse mortgages on their homes, the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) has shown that 44 percent will be ‘at risk.’ ‘At risk’ means they will be unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement. When health care costs were included explicitly, the percentage of households ‘at risk’ increased to 61 percent. Our previous analysis of health care costs, however, did not consider possible expenses for long-term care towards the end of life. This brief explores how the need for long-term care could affect the NRRI. This brief is structured as follows. The first section recaps the original NRRI and the NRRI with health care costs explicitly included. The second section describes the nature of long-term care, the likelihood of a household member needing such care, and the financing alternatives available. The third section explores how the challenge posed by long-term care is different for households of different types and wealth levels. The fourth section models the impact of long-term care on the NRRI. The final section concludes.

Suggested Citation

  • Alicia H. Munnell & Anthony Webb & Francesca Golub-Sass & Dan Muldoon, 2009. "Long-term Care Costs and The National Retirement Risk Index," Issues in Brief ib2009-9-7, Center for Retirement Research, revised Mar 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:crr:issbrf:ib2009-9-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Finkelstein, Amy, 2007. "Why is the market for long-term care insurance so small?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(10), pages 1967-1991, November.
    2. Norton, Edward C., 2000. "Long-term care," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 17, pages 955-994 Elsevier.
    3. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-399, April.
    4. Jeffrey R. Brown & Amy Finkelstein, 2008. "The Interaction of Public and Private Insurance: Medicaid and the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1083-1102, June.
    5. Michael G. Palumbo, 1999. "Uncertain Medical Expenses and Precautionary Saving Near the End of the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(2), pages 395-421.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:soceco:v:70:y:2017:i:c:p:47-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2015. "Measuring Economic Preparation for Retirement: Income Versus Consumption," Working Papers wp332, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    3. V. Kumar & Denish Shah, 2011. "Practice Prize Paper --Uncovering Implicit Consumer Needs for Determining Explicit Product Positioning: Growing Prudential Annuities' Variable Annuity Sales," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(4), pages 595-603, July.
    4. Unruh Mark A. & Stevenson David G. & Frank Richard G. & Cohen Marc A. & Grabowski David C., 2016. "Demand-Side Factors Associated with the Purchase of Long-Term Care Insurance," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(1), pages 23-43, June.

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