Cost of Long-Term Care Rises

The costs of nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities continue to rise significantly, according to the Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs conducted by insurance provider MetLife.

Private-room nursing-home rates rose 4.6% in 2010, increasing to an average of $229 per day or $83,585 per year, while assisted living rose 5.2% on average to $3,293 per month, or $39,516 per year. These come on the back of a 3.3% increase in price for both nursing home and assisted-living facilities from 2008 to 2009.

"The cost of care in nursing homes and assisted living has been and continues to be high, and in the past year, the increases have even outpaced medical-care inflation of about 3 percent," Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute, said in a press release. "As the population ages, there are more and more people among us who will need long-term care."

One piece of good news is that costs for home health aides and adult day services were unchanged in the past year. Home health aide costs remain at an average price of $21 per hour, while adult day services costs are still $67 per day.

The need for a cost-effective alternative to full-time care has helped the adult day services industry grow during the past few years, too. According to the survey, there are more than 4,600 adult day service centers nationwide, a 35 percent increase since 2002. During that same period, those served by these centers have increased by more than 100,000.

By comparison, nearly 1 million people live in approximately 39,500 full-time assisted-living residences in the U.S., according to current estimates from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. The average age of an assisted- living resident is 86.9 years old, and the median length of stay in assisted living is 29.3 months.

"While families continue to provide the lion’s share of care, paid care is commonly part of the equation and the costs can derail even the best financial plan," Timmermann said. "There is very good reason for individuals and families to look into savings plans, annuities, and long-term care insurance to hedge the possibilities."

MetLife’s Mature Market Institute has conducted surveys since 2002 with annual updates. This year's survey was conducted by telephone between May and August 2010, by LifePlans, Inc., for the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Costs were calculated for each service provider in an area and aggregated across all providers to compute statewide averages. 

The survey found that Alaska was the state with the highest average daily rates for nursing homes, where prices per day were $687 for a private room and $610 for a semi-private room. Costs were lowest in Louisiana with an average of $138 per day for a private room.

The Washington, D.C., area had the highest average monthly base rate for assisted-living facilities with prices per month of $5,231. Arkansas had the lowest average monthly rate of $2,073. You can find a full breakdown of costs by state in the report.

—Jeanine Skowronski, mainstreet.com

Join the Discussion