Prices salty and getting saltier at Indiana nursing homes-WEB ONLY

The cost of nursing home care in Indianapolis is rising faster than in the rest of the country, according to an annual survey of long-term-care costs by Virginia-based Genworth Financial.

Residents in and around Indianapolis pay nearly $78,700 per year for a private room in a nursing home. That rate has been rising at 7 percent a year for the past five years, Genworth’s survey found.

Nationally, the cost of nursing homes is rising 4 percent per year. The average private room at a nursing home costs $74,200 per year – 6-percent less than in Indianapolis.

Statewide, private rooms at nursing homes equal the national average.

But health care costs in general have been rising faster in Indiana than in the rest of the country.

Total health spending per person in Indiana has been outpacing the national average since at least 1991, according to a 2007 Health Affairs analysis of government data. That study found that Hoosiers, after spending less on health care historically, had equaled national health care spending rates by 2004.

Analysts cite Hoosiers’ poor health and a pattern of building too many health care facilities as key drivers of those increases. More health care spending creates jobs in that sector, but actually reduces even more jobs among other employers paying for health-care benefits for their employees, according to a 2004 study of Indiana by Mathematica Policy Research.

Rising costs in long-term care are particularly problematic now because many seniors’ retirement savings took a hit in last year’s meltdown on Wall Street.

“Many Indiana residents who had planned to tap their hard-earned nest egg to cover future long-term-care costs are finding this may no longer be a viable option given the economic downturn,” Buck Stinson, president of Genworth Financial’s insurance products unit, said in a statement.

The Genworth survey was conducted in January, February and March in all 50 states.

Private rooms in nursing homes are the most expensive type of long-term care. Semi-private rooms average $56,600 in Indianapolis, according to the Genworth study. Assisted-living facilities cost even less – an average of $35,600 per year.

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