If you're living in Massachusetts, you can expect to pay a
pretty penny for long-term care services. According to
a study from Genworth Financial Inc.
, the Bay State has some of the highest costs in the nation
associated with care for the elderly.
Growing old in Georgia, on the other hand, is decidedly more
affordable. The Peach State consistently ranks among the least
expensive locales for various types of care, according to the
Knowing the cost of care where you live is important when you
consider your need for
long-term care insurance
. Genworth determined the costs in four categories of care --
nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, adult day care centers
and home health care professionals -- by conducting 15,300 surveys
of providers during January and February 2012.
While Massachusetts and Georgia managed to consistently appear
on the high and low ends of the cost spectrum, respectively, in all
four categories, the Genworth survey found costs in most states
vary, depending on the type of care.
New Jersey, for instance, ranks as the most expensive state for
assisted-living facilities, with costs averaging around $5,713 a
month. But it falls right in the middle of Genworth's analysis of
home care providers. Missouri -- the state where assisted-living
facilities are the least expensive, at $2,419 a month -- also falls
in the middle when it comes to home care.
The discrepancies aren't all that surprising, considering that
different external factors drive the costs associated with each
category of care.
What's driving costs?
"So many variables go into what makes care more expensive in one
area than another," says Jowynna Michel, care resources operations
leader for Genworth's Caregiving Division. For example, the costs
associated with bricks-and-mortar facilities tend to be higher in
states where real estate is the most expensive, she says.
"Massachusetts has one of the highest costs of living in the
U.S.," Michel says. That is why nursing homes located in the state
can cost residents between $117,530 and $127,750 a year, depending
on whether a person chooses a private or semiprivate room.
As high as that figure may appear, the state actually ranks
third in nursing-home costs. Alaska tops that list, with costs
averaging between $232,505 and $273,750 a year. It's followed by
Connecticut, where residents pay between $135,050 and $145,818
In contrast, residents in Oklahoma, the state where nursing home
costs are at their lowest, pay between $49,447 and $53,597 a
To learn more about nursing homes,
visit a webpage on the topic from AARP
, an advocacy group for people age 50 and older.
States with expensive real estate, including Alaska, New Jersey,
New York and most of New England, also have higher costs associated
with their adult day care centers and assisted-living facilities.
Vermont residents pay the most at adult day care centers, with
service in the Green Mountain State costing $131.50 per day. In
Alabama, the least expensive state in this category, patrons only
pay $25 per day for care.
Home care costs are generally determined by the availability of
workers in an area.
"Having a strong, unskilled labor force in your area will keep
costs down," Michel says. These workforces tend to be prevalent in
the South, where home care consistently is affordable. Care is
cheapest in Louisiana, where the average hourly rate for home care
health aides is $15 an hour.
On the other hand, less densely populated states, like North
Dakota or Wyoming, tend to pay more to home care providers since
these individuals usually have to travel further to get to work,
Michel says. Minnesota actually ranks amongst the most expensive
states for home care aides, with workers averaging around $25.25 an
Despite regional trends, "some states don't act the way you
would think," Michel says. Home health care aides in Florida, for
example, make an average of $18 an hour, one of the highest rates
amongst the Southern states. While the state has a well-developed
community of long-term care providers, it also has a large aging
population that appears willing to pay more for care.
Additionally, "the cost of living is higher in Florida, as is
the average income, according to the U.S. census," Michel says.
The big picture
Overall, the study found the cost of care associated with
facility-based providers has increased steadily over the last five
The average annual rate for private nursing home rooms has
climbed from $65,700 in 2007 to $81,030 in 2012. Adult day care
costs increased by 1.67 percent from 2011 to 2012, with patrons
nationwide currently paying an average of $61 per day. Similarly,
assisted-living facilities experienced a 1.19 percent uptick, with
U.S. residents paying an average of $3,300 a month for care.
One spot of good news is that costs associated with home care
have remained flat. The national hourly median rate charged by a
licensed home health agency for an aide has only risen from $18 to
$19 between 2007 and 2012.
You can find out how your state ranks in care categories by
consulting the Genworth study. Knowing the costs of care in your
area can be a crucial first step in your long-term care planning
"It's a good starting point for figuring out how much insurance
you will need down the road," says Jesse Slome, executive director
of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. "If you
know your potential costs are going to be higher, you may need a
larger insurance policy."
This policy could include extra coverage in a specific area of
care, depending on where that category ranks among your own
preferences and how expensive it is in your area. However, in
states where costs are high across the board, it may be a good idea
to opt for a comprehensive policy that has richer benefits covering
all levels of care in a variety of settings.
The data is just one part of an involved planning process that
includes assessing your own wants, your family's capabilities and
the amount of money you have to put toward premiums, deductibles or
You can use Insure.com's online
long-term care insurance policy checklist
as a planning tool.
"Long-term care planning needs to be part of your whole
financial family plan," Slome says. "You need to take into account
where you are going to live down the road. If it's an expensive
area, you're going to have to set more funds aside for your