NEW YORK (AP) - The price tag for nursing homes, in-home care and assistedliving kept growing in 2009, according to a new study, potentiallyadding another hardship to retirees already hurt by financiallosses amid the recession.
The survey, by Richmond, Va.-based insurer Genworth FinancialInc., says that except for home-based health care, the costs oflong-term care are also poised for steady increases. The cost oflabor is a key factor driving the price of care at facilities,though that has abated somewhat because of the availability now ofworkers as unemployment has risen and higher retention rates.
"The labor required in a facility is generally more skilled innature," said Beth Ludden, senior vice president of long-term careproduct development at Genworth.
The study showed that the average annual cost for a private roomin a nursing home is $74,208, or $208 per day, a 4.7 percent boostover the past year and 4.3 percent annually over the past fiveyears. The costs range from $50,594 in Louisiana to $125,925 inConnecticut, the highest in the continental U.S. Overall, theNortheast is the most expensive region of the nation for nursinghomes. The average for Ohio is $71,472.
The cost for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facilityis $33,903 annually, or $2,825 monthly, marking an increase of 1.4percent over 2008 and 4.7 percent annually over the last fiveyears. North Dakota has the lowest annual costs at $25,049, withMassachusetts the highest in the continental U.S., at $55,137.Again, the Northeast led the nation in costs. Ohio's average is$35,845.
The recession highlights the expense of long-term care, Luddensaid, with many people having counted on assets such as their homesto help pay for the costs. Many of those assets are now worth lessfor many people. The median sale price for a house fell 12 percentin March, according to a recent Commerce Department report.
"Historically people have thought they would have an asset toliquidate to pay for it, but those assets may now be devalued," shesaid.
A bright spot in the company's survey is the relatively flatcost of in-home care. The hourly cost for in-home care fornon-Medicare certified workers rose a half-percent to $18.50 from ayear ago and grew 1.7 percent annually over the past five years.Louisiana was the least expensive annually while Massachusettstopped the list.
More than two-thirds of the over-65 population will eventuallyneed some form of long-term care, Ludden said
Genworth's most recent study expanded its scope to 331 regions,from 90 a year earlier, also prompting it to change how itcalculates costs, using the average of the regions' median costs.The company also assessed which states had the most nursing homechoices and affordability, placing Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansasat the top of the list.
Genworth's 2009 Cost of Care Survey is available on thecompany's web site.
On the Net: www.genworth.com/costofcare
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