(3 Minute Read)
Health care costs are rising across the board, but nursing home bills are without a doubt skyrocketing the fastest. Their expense has grown at twice the rate of US inflation for the last five years. To avoid these often startling costs, many retirees seek out in-home care, but that’s also not without its risks and expenses. Whether they age in place or choose to move to a retirement community, seniors today find themselves facing price tags in the triple digits to get the medical attention they need. Why are these costs so high and how are today’s seniors meeting them? Read on to learn more.
Nursing Home Costs
Many see the high price tag on nursing home care and assume that companies are looking to profit from the demand in their industry. However, by the time someone is in a nursing home, they are usually in need of specialized round-the-clock care. This doesn’t just mean a nurse; respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and pain management specialists are also all on staff full-time. That doesn’t mean they’re raking in the cash; nurses working in nursing homes sometimes make as much as 50% less than their counterparts in large hospitals. The cost of medications and medical equipment needed to care adequately for patients is always on the rise. The facility also has to keep residents fed and comfortable in a nice environment, and provide programming and entertainment to keep spirits up. Unfortunately, the increased expense of all these amenities means a trickle down cost to their residents. For many, the cost of yearly residence in a nursing home outstrips the price of their grandchild’s college tuition.
In Home Risks
Aging in place is what most people dream of. After a lifetime of memories made in your home, the thought of leaving to go someplace else is depressing to say the least. But choosing to stay in your residence and ask a caregiver to come to you isn’t necessarily less expensive, and comes with its own set of risks. In the past, in-home caregivers were shortchanged by labor laws and not entitled to overtime or even minimum wage in some states. A recent ruling by the US Department of Labor has changed that, guaranteeing overtime pay and wage protection to millions of workers across the US. That means if a care worker is on duty for more than eight hours, the insurance plan or patient will have to pay them more. For many, this can add up fast, especially if you’re paying out of pocket. On average, a year of in-home care costs around $42,000. Additionally, when this caregiver isn’t around, navigating a home can be treacherous for someone with a serious illness or a debilitating condition like arthritis. Getting up and down stairs, into and out of the bathroom, and walking on a tile floor are skills we all take for granted in our youth, but old age brings physical limitations many have to accept over time.
How to Pay
If you’re lucky enough to have savings or a pension, these costs may be manageable for you, whichever route you choose. Social Security provides some monthly income to seniors, but often not enough to meet the rising bills associate with elderly care. Many seniors with little savings find themselves forced to go on Medicaid to cover the costs, especially if they need to enter a nursing home. In fact, Medicaid currently pays for more than half of the long-term home care in the US. Some are able to qualify for private insurance which covers the costs of long-term care where other policies don’t, but there are health standards applicants must meet, and premiums increase over time.
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