A new survey by MetLife Inc., New York, finds the average cost of a private room in a nursing home varies sharply across the United States.[@@]
Nationwide, the average rate in 2004 was $192 a day, or $70,080 per year. But rates ranged from a high of $561 per day or $204,765 per year in Alaska to a low of $99 a day or $36,135 per year in Shreveport, La., according to the survey, released by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, Westport, Conn.
With federal data showing an average length of stay in a nursing home at 2.4 years, that translates into a total average cost of over $168,000, MetLife notes.
Costs for receiving care at home were also wide ranging,. The average hourly cost for a home health care aide was $18 per hour nationally but varied from $28 per hour in Hartford to $13 per hour in Shreveport, La., and Jackson, Miss.
A 2003 study by MetLife found an average daily rate for a private room of $181 per day or $66,065 annually, while the hourly rate for a home health aide was at the same $18 level MetLife found in 2004. MetLife cautions, however, that figures for 2003 may not be directly comparable to the latest findings due to changes in the study’s data-gathering techniques.
The high costs of long term care show that Americans must prepare for their retirement not just by assessing their asset and income requirements but also by planning for the possibility that they will need help with day-to-day living, says Sandra Timmermann, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.