Jun 22, 2015

A nursing home is a home – a really, really expensive home.  (If you are in Florida, tag on another “really.”)

Considering the suite of services nursing homes offer – skilled nursing case, personal care, rehabilitative care and recreation, and some even offer memory care – it is no surprise the cost is significant.  What is surprising is the Superman-like pace of increase in nursing home costs from year to year.

According to the latest Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the median annual rate for a private room in a nursing home is now $91,250.  That is up a stunning 4.2 percent over 2014.  In Florida, the annual cost of a private room is $96,725.  Since the average stay in a nursing home is between two and four – and assuming prices do not continue to rise – that room would cost you somewhere between $193,450 and $387,000.

“It’s an ever-increasing cycle.”                                                              

Costs will, no doubt, continue to rise.  According to Genworth, expenses such as insurance, food, building maintenance and labor costs will all continue to increase and, in turn, will continue to be passed on to consumers.

“[Nursing home employees] rarely get pay decreases, food rarely costs less, rent rarely goes down – it’s an ever-increasing cycle,” said Bob Bua, VP of Genworth, in a 2013 interview with CNNMoney.  The article points out less costly alternatives, including hiring home health care aides and other live-in assistance. Genworth estimates that, on the spectrum of care options, adult day health care is the lowest at a national average of $17,900 annually, with home health care and assisted living facilities ranging between just over $43,000 to just under $46,000 per year.  In Florida, those numbers are comparable.  Also worth noting is the lower average yearly increase for home health care.

“The consumer needs to be educated how expensive this is.” 

According to a 2013 study released by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, despite Medicare coverage out-of-pocket medical spending in the last five years of life left one in four American seniors bankrupt.  A key objective of Medicare is to reduce the risk of financial ruin due to out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, but in light of the numbers this does not appear to be the case.

And the population of seniors in need of long-term care is only increasing.  Currently, an estimated 12 million Americans need some form of long-term care.  This number, according to Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), is expected to balloon as the aging baby boomers begin to need care.  FCA provides an informative amalgamation of statistics here.

The best defense is a good offense.

Education is key.  Knowledge is power.  All of these adages ring true for everything that you endeavor to do – and especially in planning for your future.  At The Edwards Law Firm, we believe that educating our clients on what to expect when we embark on an estate plan.  We also make sure our clients know that the unexpected is always a possibility – and often is the probability.  That is why we offer advanced estate planning services, including planning for long-term care and ensuring Medicaid eligibility if it comes to that.

One tip we always give our clients when seeking a nursing home for a loved one is to find a nursing home that you like.  Next, always (always) ask this one, simple question: Should my loved one become Medicaid eligible, can she stay?  If the answer is “no,” go back to step one.

For more information on advanced planning, Medicaid eligibility, long-term care options for veterans, and other important “offensive moves,” attend one of our educational seminars or schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys today.



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