Long-term care costs are surging
By Tom Murphy
AP Health Writer
Long-term care costs are surging again and the most expensive option — a private nursing home room — may soon top $100,000 per year.
Growing labor expenses and sicker patients helped push the median cost of care that includes adult day care and assisted living communities up an average of 4.5 percent this year, according to a survey by Genworth Financial. That’s the second-highest increase since Genworth started its survey in 2004.
The cost of home health aide services climbed the most, rising 6 percent, to $21.50 an hour. Private nursing home care now costs more than $97,000.
Many Americans don’t plan for these expenses or understand them until they face them, said Joe Caldwell of the National Council on Aging, which is not tied to the study.
“People don’t like to think about it and talk about it ahead of time, so they kind of put off planning and saving for it financially because they don’t think it’s going to happen to them,” he said.
Long-term care can impose a crushing financial burden on individuals or families in part because Medicare, the federal health coverage program for people over age 65, provides limited help. That can force people who don’t have private coverage to spend down their assets until they qualify for the government’s health insurance program for the poor, Medicaid.
Genworth Financial Inc. sells long-term care coverage and didn’t address that cost in its study, which was based on information from 15,000 long-term care providers.
Coverage costs are rising as well, Caldwell said, noting that few employers offer help with that expense like they do with more common forms of coverage such as health insurance.