The Cost of Long-Term Care
The cost of long-term care varies according to the service provided and the geographic location.
• A semiprivate room in a nursing home in the United States cost an average of $171 per day in 2006, with an average annual cost of about $62,000. The cost of a private room averaged $194 per day, ranging from $116 in Louisiana to $524 in Alaska.
• The average cost of a home health aide in 2006 was $25 per hour, with local costs ranging from $17 to $49.
• The average base rate for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living residence was just under $2,700 per month in 2006, with a range of $1,716 to $4,797 according to locality. (In many residences this base rate does not include personal care or various other charges.)
The total amount a person spends on long-term care in her lifetime depends both on the price of services and on how long she uses those services. A few statistics will give an idea of what one should expect: According to one study, the average nursing home stay is 2.5 years, but 17 percent of stays exceed five years. Based on a yearly cost of $62,000, the average stay would cost about $155,000, and a five-year stay would cost more than $300,000.
But many people receive home healthcare or residential care for a considerable time, often years, before they enter a nursing home (if they ever do). For example, in 2001, the average stay in an assisted living residence was about three years. So the true lifetime cost of long-term care is typically much more than the cost of an average nursing home stay.
Moreover, these figures are based on current prices, and most people are concerned about needing long-term care in the future, not today. In recent decades, long-term care costs have been increasing by an annual rate of about 5 percent, and it is estimated that in 2030 a four-hour visit from a home health provider could cost $325, an annual stay in an assisted living residence could start at $109,300, and the yearly cost of a nursing home could be $190,600.