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The average cost of long term care in the United States was $72,240 in 2004, according to a newly released study by Genworth Financial Inc., Richmond, Va.

The figure represents a mean for 3 major care categories: nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home care. The research was conducted among 6,000 providers nationally.

Costs in urban areas were 20% higher than nonurban areas. In some urban markets, such as those in New York, California and Minnesota, the cost of care was more than 40% higher than nonurban areas, Genworth found.

The average annual national cost of a private room in a nursing home was $65,200, or $179 per day, according to the survey. This was up 13% over the 2003 daily rate of $158 per day.

The average annual cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home was $57,700, or $158 a day.

[These figures were somewhat lower than those found in an earlier study published late last year by MetLife Inc., New York. MetLife found the average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home was $192 or $70,080 annually, while for a semiprivate room, the average was $169 per day or $61,685 annually.]

In the Genworth study, Alaska continued to have the highest average annual cost in the nation at $191,400 for a private room, followed by New York City at $127,900 (up 15% and 21%, respectively, over 2003).

Missouris nonurban areas had the lowest average annual private room cost at $41,600.

Delaware saw the biggest increase in nursing home costs, with a 30% rise in the cost of a private room, to $211. Average costs fell in 3 states: North Dakota, down 31%; Nebraska, down 8%; and Maine, down 2%.

For assisted living facilities, Genworth found a private room averaged $28,800 annually, excluding entrance fees, community fees and additional health care services. In this category, New York City showed the highest monthly cost for a single bedroom unit at $5,000, while nonurban areas in Florida cost the least, averaging $1,587 per month.

Home health aide and homemaker services averaged $18.65 and $16.67 per hour, respectively.

Home health aides earned the highest pay in most of Connecticut, at $26.60 an hour. They earned the least in Alabama, at $13.62.

Minneapolis recorded the highest homemaker service hourly costs, at $22.39, while Mississippi was lowest at $11.81.

The survey was conducted for Genworth (formerly GE Financial) by CareScout, Wellesley, Mass., from July through October 2004. CareScout polled more than 2,000 participants from each of the 3 categories of LTC providers.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, January 20, 2005. Copyright 2005 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.