Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cost of Care: The Long Term

Medicine costs. Hospital equipment costs. Staffing for health care providers costs. Emergency services cost. To make matters worse, these costs are consistently rising, and not slowly.

This is one of the pillars of the health care crisis facing our nation, the cost of care. It is frequently noted in headlines and blog posts, often focusing on a patient who either in unable to pay for needed care or in studies that project its steady and unrelenting increase in the future.

One aspect of the cost issue that is not as often touched upon is how these cost factors will impact late life long-term care. Prudential Financial's newly issued "2008 Long-Term Care Cost of Care" research report aims a microscope at these issues and provides some useful and startling tools as well.

Via Market Watch:

Prudential's Cost of Care study sheds light on the State-specific average costs associated with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care services. The study results show the average assisted living costs and average nursing home costs in Alaska as the most expensive in the country at $82,956 per year and $183,595 per year respectively. Detroit ranked the highest for home health care hourly rate at $38.

The fact is, without proper planning, the annual cost of long-term care can quickly deplete even a sizable nest egg. "While no one wants to think about 'that time' when they may need care in an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or at home care, it's essential that consumers consider the costs now and implement a financial plan to help ensure they receive the quality of care they desire," added [Andy] Mako [Senior Vice President, Long-Term Care Insurance, Prudential].
I'm glad I don't live in Alaska. I doubt I'll come close to a six-figure income in my own lifetime, let alone be able to pay that in my retirement. As with most health care oriented figures, these are sobering to consider. Of course, Prudential does lend a hand with coming to grips with the problem in an informed fashion. They have a new cost of care mapping tool online which allows those interested to drill down and get state by state cost info, in some cases involving larger urban areas. It even gives city by city data.

Check it out. The numbers will probably startle you.

SOURCE: "Prudential Study Sheds Light on the Increasing Costs of Long-Term Care- Interactive web-based tool allows consumers to view city and state specific cost data" 08/18/08
photo courtesy of EggyBird, used under its Creative Commons license

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