As Population Ages, Costs to Care Rise

Elder Care CostsTwo recent news articles really brought to light for me the immense costs associated with caring for our aging population. The first is an article from the Associated Press, which covers the climbing costs of elder care. The other article is from the New York Times, and discusses the Medicare costs associated with nursing homes and nursing home negligence. As the baby boomer population continues to age, and more of our loved ones are put into nursing homes, I think it’s important to discuss what is going on with the elder care industry.

How much is it actually costing?

According to the AP article, the median price for a private room in a nursing home is now $91,250! The cost of staying in a nursing home has increased 4% every year for the last five years. So the cost last year was $87,600. The report put together by Genworth Financial also found that the cost to stay in a nursing home for a year in Oklahoma has a median cost of $60,225, while in Alaska it is $281,415 (the highest). However, with these costs what kind of care and amenities is our elderly population receiving?

Nursing Home Care

The New York Times article discusses what is known as the “chandelier effect.” This is when a nursing home offers attractive looking lobbies and rooms and nice amenities, but the home does not always provide good medical care. In a previous blog, I discussed nursing home rating and whether or not star ratings are accurate as to care. The New York Times article provides commentary from a geriatrician and professor, who notes that many nursing homes are struggling to provide “consistent, quality care despite genuine efforts.” And then there are the horrible cases of patients dying in nursing homes due to negligence. One story in the article describes an incident with one patient at the Watermark at Logan Square, a nursing home with high ratings from the federal government that boasted “top-notch health care” on its website. After one month this patient had a severe bedsore which required hospitalization.

And who is paying for most of the inferior nursing home care? The article cites that an estimated $2.8 billion is spent by Medicare on hospital treatment for harm or injuries experienced in nursing facilities as of 2011. And a report released in 2014 by the Department of Health and Human Services found an estimated 22% of Medicare beneficiaries experienced “adverse events” during their nursing home stays and an additional 11% experienced “temporary harm events” during their stays. Accordingly, 59% of these adverse and temporary harm events were “clearly or likely preventable.” Most of these events were attributed to substandard treatment, inadequate resident monitoring, and failure or delay of necessary care.

The report recommended that the following be done:

  • That the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) raise awareness on nursing home safety.
  • That they seek to reduce patient harm through methods used for hospital safety efforts.
  • That they work together to create and promote a list of potential nursing home “events” to help nursing home staff better identify harm.
  • That CMS should instruct State agencies to review nursing home practices in order to identify and reduce adverse events.

If you have put your loved one in a nursing home, and you suspect abuse or neglect, please call the experienced attorneys at McDivitt Law Firm. Our team will help ensure that the nursing home is held accountable for its neglect or abuse.

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