Long term care costs are exorbitant and continue to rise – yet home care agencies in the south shore of Massachusetts by comparison, offer the greatest value. While all long term care costs have increased in recent years, a new study finds that home care costs have increased at a far more moderate pace than those provided by facility-based care (i.e. assisted living and nursing home care).
Conducted by Genworth, the insurance company, the study shows that while home care has increased by one percent annually over the last five years, assisted living facilities have increased 2.5 percent and nursing homes four percent. This means the gap between the value of home care vs. institutional care is only likely to continue to grow in future years when the baby boomer generation is going to need it.
This study is accompanied by recent surveys that regularly show that home care is preferred by more than 90 percent of individuals over institutional care. People repeatedly say “there is no place like home” when asked where they want to receive care. They point to the desire to stay home amid familiar surroundings rather than live in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Families also find, for this reason, that it is much easier to convince elderly loved ones, who crave their independence but are no longer considered safe living alone, to agree to have a home health aide come into their home rather than move to a care-based facility.
The Genworth study now offers cost differential as a second reason for people choosing home care over assisted living or nursing home care. According to the study, the 2015 median hourly cost for services of a home health aide hired from a home care agency is $20. This means that for one who hires an aide for an average of 20 hours per week, the cost would be $400 a week, or about $20,000 annually.
Compare this to an assisted living facility where the median cost is $43,200 – although in some parts of the country this cost runs as high as $70,000. The cost for a private room in a nursing home is $91,250 nationally (and as much as $130,000 in more expensive parts of the country).
Additionally, with home care, families have control over the amount of care they desire (and can afford to pay for). While home care costs will certainly increase as the needs of the patient grow and he or she demands more care, families can maintain greater control in terms of how much they are willing to spend. This means they can choose to spend less in the earlier stages of the aging process when the patient may still remain somewhat independent – or can choose to have the home care agency share responsibility for the patient’s care with family caregivers or day care. This is obviously not the case with institutional care.
Medical insurance does not pay for long term care costs. Medicare will only pay for long term care if skilled services or rehabilitative care is required, and only for a limited time. Medicaid, meanwhile, covers a large share of long term care costs but to qualify one’s income must fall below a certain level. This means that unless the individual has long term care insurance – and only about 10 percent of the elderly have it – or qualifies for Medicaid, costs will need to be paid out-of-pocket. This makes home care, in many cases, not only the preferred option, but also the most cost effective.