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Cost of long-term care rising

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

My 102-year-old friend has been struggling with the prospect of losing her two long-time caregivers. One of them is retiring and moving home to Africa. The other is marrying and moving to the West Coast.

My friend's children, who are themselves past the age of retirement, are urging her to be more flexible about her care arrangements and consider some combination of in-home help and adult day care. But as her doctor says, "People at this age can be inflexible and have a strong sense of entitlement." So it's not easy -- nor is it cheap. If you were hoping to reach this age, keep that in mind.

Long-term care insurer Genworth released its annual cost-of-care survey this week. While the cost of care at home was flat and the cost of community care rose only slightly, the cost of nursing home care rose about 4 percent compared to 2011 -- slightly less for semiprivate rooms and more for private rooms.

The most striking data in the report came from the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare. The number of Medicare-certified home care agencies in the U.S. had risen from approximately 9,200 at the start of 2008 to more than 11,000 in 2011 -- an increase of 20 percent. At the same time, the number of Medicare-certified nursing homes had stayed just about the same, going from 15,000 in 2008 to 15,100 last year.

What that means is that anyone who is facing the need for care in a facility that accepts Medicare benefits for post-hospital recovery and Medicaid for daily care will have a difficult time finding an acceptable facility.

Genworth also surveyed 800 consumers with personal involvement in a long-term care event lasting more than 30 days. Here's what they reported about the financial burdens of this care:

  • Eighty-eight percent said the long-term care event reduced household income by an average of 34 percent.
  • Sixty-three percent reduced their savings by an average 61 percent.
  • Sixty percent reported a need to tighten the family budget after a long-term care event.

All of this adds up to a reminder that a road map for long-term care must be a part of any retirement planning.

Below is a summary of the Genworth 2012 Cost of Care Survey:

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