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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 29, 2010

State long-term-care costs remain high

BY Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer

The cost of long-term care in Hawai'i remains at rates that are above national median expenses, in some cases costing two-thirds more.

That's among the conclusions that can be drawn from the Genworth 2010 Cost of Care Survey, a national study of costs for home care providers, adult day care health care facilities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

The findings of this year's survey are in line with past results, which show that people requiring long-term health care will face high costs. Genworth said Hawai'i's annual median home care costs was $51,480, or about 18 percent higher than the national median of $43,472. Nationally, Hawai'i was ranked the seventh most-expensive state.

The study notes that almost two out of every three U.S. residents older than 65 need long-term care at home or through other means, such as adult day health care, or an assisted living facility.

Moreover, the costs aren't just faced by the elderly.

The study also notes that four in 10 people receiving long-term care services are ages 18 to 64.

Besides Hawai'i's typically higher costs than the Mainland, the state's shortage of long-term-care beds contributes to the higher expenses in the state. Hawai'i's median cost of a private room in a nursing home was pegged at $114,975 annually in the study, or sixth highest among all states.

Other findings of the study included:

• Licensed home health aide services rose at a rate of 2 percent over the past five years. The median hourly rate is $23 in the state, or a little more than one-fifth higher than the national median.

• The cost care for a one-bedroom single-occupancy assisted living unit is $45,000 after rising faster (7 percent annually) than inflation during the past five years. It compared with the $38,220 cost nationally.

• Adult day health care was $16,900, or $1,300 more than the rate nationally.

• Hawai'i's semi-private nursing home costs ranked as the third-highest nationally. A semi-private room in a nursing home will run a patient $113,059 a year here. That's 67 percent more than the national median rate of $67,525.

Cheryl Tamura, spokeswoman for St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii, said the rates appeared consistent with St. Francis' observations about the market and another study on costs done by MetLife in October last year.

She said the high costs of staying in a nursing home was one reason St. Francis started an aging-in-place program a year ago. St. Francis' Stay Healthy at Home helps elderly Hawai'i residents live safely in their homes for as long as possible.

Richmond, Va.-based Genworth is a financial services company with a product line that includes long-term-care insurance and other healthcare related insurance. It has conducted the study through its CareScout unit since 2004.