Aging at Home is Still the Cheapest Care Option

While overall long-term care costs continue to rise nationally, paying for care services in the home is still cheaper than facility-based care, according to recent cost data from Genworth Financial (NYSE: GNW).

Over the past 12 years, Genworth, via its annual Cost of Care Survey, analyzes trends in long-term care services, tracking how much various care services cost and the rate at which they have increased year-over-year. The survey covers home- and community-based care such as homemaker services, home health aide services and adult day health care, as well as facility-based care including assisted living and nursing home care. 

While the cost of all care has steadily risen over the years, care provided in people’s homes has not risen by the same degree as that provided in facilities.

Whereas the national median hourly rate for homemaker and home health aide services is only $20, these expenses are dwarfed by assisted living’s national median rate of $3,600 per month and the $220 national median daily rate for nursing care in a semi-private room. For private-room nursing care, the national median rate is $250 per day.

Home-based care costs are also rising at a slower pace than facility-based care. Compared to 2014, homemaker services rose 2.63%, while home health aide services rose 1.27%.

Assisted living, on the other hand, rose 2.86% over 2014, while semi-private nursing home care rose 3.77% and private-room nursing care rose 4.17% over the past year.

Although other studies have indicated a shifting preference among Baby Boomers—the generation soon to be recipients of long-term care services—to receive care in a senior living facility rather than in their homes, Genworth finds that remaining at home is still a priority for many Americans. 

“Genworth’s experience shows that the majority of claims begin in the home,” Genworth writes. “Plus, our research shows that being able to stay at home is very important for most people thinking about buying long-term care insurance. In other words, this gradual increase in cost for home care is good news for many consumers.” 

At the heart of the 2015 study is the importance of planning ahead for long-term care expenses, especially since 70% of people over age 65 will require some form of care or support services during their lives, according to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Medicare & You handbook for 2015.

“There is something very difficult about facing some of the challenges and issues that come with aging, including the high costs of long-term care services,” said Tom McInerny, president and CEO at Genworth, in a written statement. “Part of our mission at Genworth with the Cost of Care study is to continue educating Americans on how to have tough conversations around long term care and the importance of planning.”

View the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care data.

Written by Jason Oliva

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