Survey Compares Costs for Home and Nursing Care

Byline: Brook Raflo

Westport, Conn.

More than six million Americans age 65 and older need home or nursing care, and their geographical locations have a lot to do with how much they pay for that care, according to an Aug. 5 report from MetLife Mature Market Institute in Westport, Conn.

In conducting a telephone survey of nursing homes and home care agencies in 87 markets nationwide, MetLife researchers found that, while the average hourly cost for a home health care aide is $18.12, seniors living in New Orleans can expect to pay less than half of what their peers living in Fort Worth, Texas, pay for such services.

The cost variation for nursing home care is even more drastic. While the average daily cost of a private room in a nursing home care was $181.24, seniors living in Statewide, Alaska, pay $419.80 per day for nursing home care, MetLife said. Their peers living in Shreveport, La., pay an average of $96 per day.

Like health care costs in general, home and nursing home care costs are rising steadily, MetLife continued. The hourly cost of a home health care aide in the United States has increased 2.9 percent, compared to last year’s hourly rate, and the daily cost of nursing home care has increased 8 percent during the same time period. Costs for both kinds of long-term care rose faster than the Consumer Price Index, which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, rose 2.1 percent during the 12 months ended in June.

In light of these findings, “it is important to make sure that we will be able to pay for care when we need it,” said Sandra Timmermann, director of MetLife’s Mature Market Institute. Likewise, providers should prepare for the onslaught of baby boomers, she continued. “There are 35 million people who are over age 65 today, and that figure will reach more than 70 million by 2030. As people get older, they are more likely to develop chronic conditions or physical and cognitive disabilities, which will require ongoing assistance with day-to-day activities.”

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