Paying for Skilled Nursing Services – Cost Factors and Financing Options

There is a considerable difference in nursing home costs from state to state, depending on both real estate values and labor costs that fluctuate with supply/demand in the healthcare jobs market.

According to the MetLife 2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs, Texas boasts the lowest nursing home costs, followed by Midwestern states like Oklahoma and Arkansas. Alaska has by far the highest price tag on SNFs, running roughly twice as much as the next highest regions, which include Hawaii, New York and the New England states.

In general, the cost of a Medicare-certified SNF in the U.S. runs between $6,000 and $8,000 a month, but your financial burden can be substantially reduced by Medicare, private long-term care insurance, and funding from the Medicaid program for low-income persons (if qualifications are met).

Medicare and Medicaid

Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) can cost more than assisted living facilities due to the higher level of care provided; however, almost all SNFs in the U.S. accept Medicare and private long-term care insurance. It should be noted that private Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) differs significantly in what they will pay, and for how long, from private long-term care insurance.

Speak with your loved one’s insurance carrier to clarify exactly what a policy covers. It is noted that some high-end SNFs will not accept Medicare supplemental insurance that uses HMOs.

Private-Source Financing

Seniors who own their own homes often cover the cost of long-term care by either an outright sale of the property or a reverse mortgage. If possible, go over all of the options with your loved one in order to be sure he or she is comfortable with whatever arrangements are decided upon.

Special Services

The overall cost will increase if your loved one requires special services over and above regular nursing care. Costs are also higher for Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory care, as there are often specific buildings or wings dedicated to Alzheimer’s patients that provide greater security, constant monitoring, and specialized cognitive therapies.

Vacancies

Costs are invariably affected by supply and demand. A facility with a waiting list will tend to be more expensive than a new nursing home that is trying to fill its rooms. If you get a discounted introductory rate make sure it is guaranteed not to increase at a later date when the facility is full and the monthly rates are raised.

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