According to CNNMoney, the median cost of living in private nursing homes and assisted living facilities has ballooned by 24 percent and 23 percent, respectively, over the last five years. The median annual cost of private nursing home care is now $83,950 — almost two and half times the mean tuition at private not-for-profit colleges in 2010–2011.
Semi-private room costs in nursing homes have risen to $75,405 per year, and even a stay at an assisted living facility — where patients do not receive anywhere near the level of care that they would at a private nursing home — now tends to cost over $41,000 per year. As Bob Bua, vice president of long-term care provider Genworth, explained, employees at nursing homes “rarely get pay decreases, food rarely costs less, rent rarely goes down — it’s an ever-increasing cycle.”
The CNNMoney article points out that less costly alternatives include hiring home health care aides and other live-in assistance. The median price for those services have only risen at about one percent per year over the last half decade to about $44,000 annually. But considering health aide salary data released last month, even that comparatively low price is a figure that is greatly inflated by organizations providing assistance services to the elderly. Home health aid — the fastest-growing job in America — pays less than $10 per hour, meaning that a full-time worker makes only around $20,000 per year.
These new numbers underscore the financial and medical strain put on elderly Americans due to the ever-increasing cost of health care services. Despite generous coverage under Medicare, high out-of-pocket costs bankrupt one in four American seniors because medical services themselves cost so much money. And more than half of Americans will delay their retirement so as not to lose health benefits — a consequence of America’s entrenched system of employer-sponsored insurance.