Long term care costs in the United States are generally highest in the Northeast and lowest in the Southeast, according to an analysis of state-specific data released last summer by Genworth as part of its 2016 Cost of Care Study.
It’s not all bad news for the Northeast, however. While residents of many northeastern states tend to pay more for care, the 2016 study found that care costs there tend to be rising slower than the national average – and in some cases, are declining outright.
“As our data demonstrates, where you live has a huge bearing on the cost of care, as does the setting in which you receive care,” said Tom McInerney, president and chief executive officer at Genworth. “The data is also a stark reminder of the need to plan now for how you will pay for those costs later. Understanding the cost of care is a critical first step.”
Key geographic trends for each of the most popular care settings include:
- The cost of home care, where the vast majority of people choose to receive long term care, has increased most during the past five years in the Western and Midwestern states of Wyoming (6.47 percent), South Dakota (5.03 percent), North Dakota (4.46 percent) and Nebraska (4.45 percent), all well above the national average annual increase of 2.13 percent. Despite these outliers, the average annual growth rate in the past five years across home services has been moderate in most states.
- Overall, Louisiana has the lowest cost of home care services (an average of $2,980 per month) and North Dakota has the highest ($5,331 per month).
- Home health aide costs have risen the most in North Dakota and South Dakota, at a 3.80 percent average annual increase during the past five years. Homemaker services have gone up a bit more in the same span.
Adult Day Services:
- Adult day services costs have decreased across the nation since 2015, marking the first time since 2011 that average costs have declined in any care category. This welcome trend has been felt in numerous states, most particularly in Alabama andDelaware, where costs decreased by 4.71 percent and 2.67 percent, respectively.
- At the same time, adult day services costs saw marked increases elsewhere. New York (13.40 percent) and Utah (12.47 percent) have seen average yearly increases of more than double digits, with South Dakota and New Mexico not far behind (9.94 and 9.60 percent increases, respectively).
- Across the nation, monthly costs range widely from $596 in Alabama to $3,049 in Alaska – the biggest minimum-to-maximum cost spread for any category of care.
- Oklahoma boasts the lowest cost of nursing home care, with private rooms running an average of $5,019 per month and semi-private rooms coming in at $4,410 per month (35 percent lower than the national average).
- Alaska is by far the most expensive state for nursing home services, with nursing home rooms running an average of$24,577 per month (average of private room and semi-private room costs). This is nearly 3.5 times the national average.
- Connecticut and Massachusetts have the next-highest nursing home costs5 per month, at $12,874 and $11,635respectively.
- Elsewhere, Maine has seen the lowest increase in the cost of private nursing home rooms: just 1.04 percent per year in the last five years. North Dakota had the highest with a 10.50 percent compounded annual growth rate during that period.
- Southern states offer some of the lowest monthly costs for assisted living facilities, with Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabamaranking as three of the four least-expensive states for these services (Missouri, a Midwestern state, has the lowest costs in this category).
- Northeastern and South Atlantic states – including the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maine – have some of the more expensive costs for assisted living care. D.C. peaks at fees of $6,700 per month; it also has the highest annual average increase in the past five years, at 9.02 percent.
- Vermont’s average annual increase is 6.19 percent and two Midwestern states – North Dakota and Nebraska – also face some of the highest average annual cost increases in this category.
- Notably, several Southern states have seen either a decrease or no change in cost on an annual basis over the past five years, with South Carolina (0.46 percent decrease in costs), West Virginia (0.08 decrease) and Alabama (0.01 increase) leading the charge.
Resources for Understanding and Funding Care Options
Genworth offers the following resources to help consumers educate themselves on the numerous options for funding care, which can range from self-funding to government assistance to long term care insurance:
- Download Genworth’s Cost of Care App from iTunes.
- Saving for long term care on your own can be difficult and take years to accumulate funds. To learn more information and see if self-funding will take care of your long term care needs please visit www.genworth.com/long-term-care-insurance/source/make-a-plan/payment-options/self-funded.html.
- Medicare pays for long term care if you require skilled services or rehabilitative care such as in a nursing home (max 100 days) and at home if you are also receiving skilled home health or other skilled in-home services (provided for a short period of time). For more information please visit longtermcare.gov.
- Medicaid covers a large share of long term care services but to qualify your income must be below a certain level and you must meet minimum state eligibility requirements and be in a Medicaid-approved facility. For more information please visit Medicaid.gov.
- If you qualify, private payment options such as long term care insurance products are available. For more planning options, please visit genworth.com.
- Beyond traditional insurance products, a single premium immediate need annuity can be purchased by older, less healthy Americans or their families to provide a guaranteed lifetime source of income that can be used to pay for care or other expenses. Learn more here: www.genworth.com/products/immediate-need-annuity.html.
- The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) provides a wide range of advisory resources for Americans who have questions about aging.