Sharp Rises Seen in Long-Term Care Costs

Older Americans are facing rapidly rising long-term care costs, a new survey finds.

The Genworth Financial Inc. poll of 15,000 long-term care providers nationwide revealed that the median cost of services such as adult day care and assisted living rose an average of 4.5 percent this year, the Associated Press reported.

That's the second-highest increase since Genworth's first such survey in 2004.

The sharpest rise was in home health aide services. The cost rose 6 percent, to $21.50 an hour. The survey also found that the most expensive option -- care in a private nursing home -- now costs more than $97,000 a year, the AP reported.

Many Americans don't understand or prepare for long-term care costs until they're faced with them, according to Joe Caldwell of the National Council on Aging, which was not involved in the survey.

"People don't like to think about it and talk about it ahead of time, so they kind of put off planning and saving for it financially because they don't think it's going to happen to them," he told the AP.

One-third of Americans aged 40 and older haven't planned for their long-term care, an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey found.

Private health insurance and Medicare provide only limited help with long-term care costs, and people without private insurance may have to shed their assets until they qualify for Medicaid, according to the wire service.

Caldwell also noted that long-term care coverage costs are also increasing. Initial premiums for long-term care coverage can be more than $2,000 a year, depending on a client's age, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a health care research group, the AP reported.

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