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The High Cost of Long-Term Care


Northwestern Mutual just released its annual “Cost of Long-Term-Care study.” As you might imagine, the costs of long-term-care can vary, depending on which region of the country you live in and whether you hire an aide to help you at home or enter an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Northwestern, which sells long-term-care insurance, urges people to plan for these costs. “There is a 66% chance that someone over the age of 65 will require long-term care in their lives,” says the company, which surveyed over 2,000 home health care organizations, 2,000 assisted living facilities, and 2,000 nursing homes in November. Here’s how the current costs break-down:

1)  Home Healthcare: The average hourly rate for home health aides is $20.65 or $23.98, depending on whether the agency is certified.

  • The area with the highest hourly rate for certified home health aides was Sioux Falls, S.D., at a cost of $33 per hour.
  • New Orleans had the lowest hourly rate of $13 per hour.

2)  Assisted Living Facilities: Approximately 1 million Americans live in an assisted living facility. On average, it costs $3,372 per month for a private, single-occupancy room and $2,592 per month for a shared room.

  • The area with the most expensive average monthly rate for a private, single-occupancy unit is Bethesda, Md., at a cost of $6,618 per month.
  • Milwaukee is the cheapest, at $1,263 per month for a single room.

3)    Nursing Homes: Among the 2,000 nursing homes Northwestern surveyed, the average rate for a private room is $246 per day, or $89,812 per year. Citing the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the company says the average length of stay in a nursing home is 2.4 years.

  • Anchorage, Alaska has the most expensive daily rate for a private room, at $526 per day.
  • The cost is lowest in Corpus Christi, Texas, at $133 per day.

Northwestern, which also offers a Lifespan Calculator and Long-Term Care Cost Calculator, says the data does not include expenses associated with medical equipment, transportation, and drugs.


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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.