Cost of Nursing Home Stays Increased at About Four Times Inflation Rate Over 15-Month Period, Survey Finds
The cost of staying in a nursing home increased nearly four times the rate of inflation over a 15-month period, and in-home care cost increases, while smaller, also outpaced inflation over the same time period, according to a MetLife Mature Market Institute survey to be released today, the Wall Street Journal reports. The survey, which was conducted in June, includes prices from 476 nursing homes and 513 home care agencies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers compared the most recent survey information with findings from the same geographic clusters in a previous MetLife survey of nursing and in-home care prices in February 2002 and March 2002. According to the new survey, the average cost of a private room in a nursing home increased by 8% to $181.24 per day since the 2002 survey. At the same time, the average cost of in-home care rose 3% to $18 per hour since the 2002 survey, the Journal reports. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index increased by 2.1% and overall medical care costs increased 4.1% during the 12 months that ended in June. Nursing home care costs were the highest in Alaska, at $420 per day, and the lowest in Shreveport, La., at $96 per day, according to the survey. In-home care costs were the highest in Fort Worth, Texas, at $27 per hour, and the lowest in New Orleans at $12 per hour, the survey says. Rising liability and malpractice insurance costs are contributing to the price increases, according to Dr. Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. She added that nursing homes might be increasing the rates that privately insured patients pay to address falling Medicaid payments from the federal government. Providing increasingly complex medical care for frail patients and rising labor costs also have contributed to the rise in nursing home and in-home care costs, Larry Minnix, president of American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, a trade group for not-for-profit long-term care facilities, said (Greene, Wall Street Journal, 8/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.