Most living benefits professionals are aware that too many Canadians live in ignorance about long term care costs and needs. However, when US based MetLife published the results of their Long-Term Care IQ Test, the situation was revealed to be almost unbelievable.

What this survey indicated was a pervasive ignorance about LTC in a society where more and more people are growing older and older and knowing less and less about it.

MetLife reported that only about one in three people passed the IQ test, “demonstrating a lack of basic knowledge about long-term care and the vast majority of them barely passed.”

Here in a nutshell are some of the abysmal results of the test, as found in the survey report:

  • Fewer than 4 in 10 understood their likely longevity rate.
  • Three out of 4 underestimated how many people over age 85 need assistance with activities of daily living.
  • Only 1 in 5 correctly identified that most long-term care takes place in the home.
  • Nearly half underestimated the cost of care in a nursing home.
  • More than 6 out of 10 did not correctly estimate the cost of waiting to buy LTC insurance until an older age.

MetLife said in the introduction to the report: “The IQ test was designed not only to gain new information, but also to provide a tool to help people make a preliminary assessment of their level of knowledge. A secondary goal was to help create awareness among various segments of the population about the importance of long-term care planning.”

Maybe these tests won’t change the world but they are a wake up call for the industry both in the US and Canada: Canadians also need more education about the realities of the health care system – what it can and cannot provide to citizens as they age. Who will step forward and provide such a program?

For more on the IQ Test: MetLife ( Scroll down to Tools.