To The Editor:
Id like to compliment Jack Bobo in his Aug. 19 column about the importance he attaches to planning for long-term care. I do want to correct one of his assumptions, however.
He mentioned that the cash value in his $100,000 whole life policy would take care of his LTC need because it will pay a benefit of about $2,000 per month for three years. He cited a MetLife study that estimates the average stay in a care center today of $2,159 per month. That figure is for an assisted living facility, not nursing home care, and many ALFs charge more based on the amount of assistance needed.
The MetLife study actually shows $143 per day as the current average for semi-private room and board in a nursing home, which is $52,195 a year, and $4,350 per month. These costs are projected to triple in 20 years per the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is a 5.8% annual growth rate, based on the CMS projection for home health and nursing home care 2001-2011 in the March/April issue of “Health Affairs.”
Even in 10 years, thats $237 per day ($7,200 per month) and to be realistic, theres about another 20% in drugs and supplies, which brings it to $284 per day, or about $8,600 per month. If the patient has no drug coverage, that number has to be taken seriously.
The same study also cites $18 per hour as the average cost for a home health aide, so a 10-hour shift of home care costs more than nursing home care. Even the assisted living facility at $2,159 would grow to $3,586 per month in 10 years, so inflation has to be taken into account, and theres no guarantee for any of us that we will never need nursing home care. Have you ever asked people in a nursing home how many planned to be there?
So I fear that Mr. Bobo may be operating with a false sense of security and I dont wish that for him or the loyal following of readers for his column. But again, the important thing is to plan and thats what he is doing.