The staggering prices of long-term care and two-thirds of Americans mistakenly think the government will pay the bill

The cost of long-term care just keeps going up and most Americans keep believing — incorrectly — that the government will cover most or all of it.

Emily Gurnon, the health and caregiving editor for recently reported on findings of a new report, the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Survey, released by Genworth Financial.

“Our population is aging, living longer, and not prepared,” said David O’Leary, president and CEO of Genworth’s US Life division. (Genworth is a provider of long-term care insurance, among other products.) He said the company hopes that its annual survey will help people start planning for their long-term care needs.

A private room in a nursing home now costs consumers more than $8,000 per month, or $97,455 per year, according to the report, which provides national median figures. That’s an increase of 5.5 percent from just one year ago and a nearly 50 percent increase since 2004.

A semi-private room is less expensive, but still carries a hefty price tag: $85,775 per year.

One factor influencing those prices may be government oversight of hospitals, said Gordon Saunders, senior brand manager at Genworth.

Hospitals are under pressure to cut costs and get patients discharged more quickly. Patients who might have spent a week in the hospital in years back may now only spend three days. Once they then go to the nursing home for rehabilitation, they are sicker and require more care — and in turn, the nursing home may have to put more staff, or more experienced staff, on duty, Saunders said.

Of the other types of care included in the study, the category that jumped the most in percentage from 2016 was home health aide. The annual median cost went up 6.2 percent, to $49,192 per year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you or your loved one would be covered round-the-clock with an aide. Rather, that’s the median national price for 44 hours per week.

There are several potential reasons for this hike, Saunders said. They include the increasing demand for caregivers; an increase in the minimum wage in some geographical areas, making other jobs more attractive and a 2015 federal law that requires most direct care workers be paid minimum wage and overtime pay.


Median Annual Cost of Long-Term Care

Adult Day Care (5 days/wk) $18,200
Assisted Living (one-bedroom) $45,000
Homemaker Services (44 hrs/wk) $47,934
In-Home Health Aide (44 2626hrs/wk) $49,192
Nursing Home (semi-private room) $85,775
Nursing Home (private room) $97,455

Source: Fenworth 2017 Cost of Care Study