Indianapolis might not have the bright lights of New York or the skyline of Chicago, but at least you can go out to dinner or rent an apartment without selling a kidney, right?
Monthly rents, for example, are more than 200 percent higher in New York and 85 percent higher in Chicago than in Indy, according to the consumer website Numbeo, which calls itself the world’s largest database of user-contributed data about cities.
On that website, you can compare the cost of transportation, utilities, restaurants, fitness clubs and groceries—right down to the price of a gallon of milk or a pound of rice.
But one thing it doesn’t compare—nor do many consumer web sites—is the cost of health care.
For that, we turn to Genworth, a financial services company based in Virginia. This week, Genworth released the findings of its 13th annual Cost of Care Survey.
The survey found that long-term-care costs in the U.S. are generally highest in the Northeast and lowest in the Southeast. Overall, Louisiana has the lowest cost of home care services (about $2,980 a month) and North Dakota has the highest ($5,331 a month).
Well, you might say, who cares about Louisiana or North Dakota? How about something closer to the White River or the Monon Trail?
For that, we have good news, and a bit of fun.
The website has an interactive calculator that allows health care nerds to compare the cost of care for home health care, adult day health care, assisted living and nursing home care. You can compare between Indiana and any other state, or between one Indiana city and another, or against the state median.
You can set the period to daily, monthly or annual costs. There’s even a feature for calculating future costs, up through 2046. (I’d hate to think of the computer algorithms that went into that.)
There’s so many ways to compare costs that penny-pinchers and budget geeks could spend an hour or more just figuring out the best cities for affordable nursing homes. (Yes, these people exist. I have talked to them on the phone.)
I spent some time playing with this calculator, and here are a few quick findings.
Do you need a nursing home? The annual median cost of a private room in an Indiana nursing home is $91,980. In Illinois, it’s less, $74,825.
But if you zoom into cities, and compare Indy to Chicago, the outcome is different: still $91,980 for Indy, but $94,900 for Chicago.
Do you need a home health aide? In Indy, it would cost you $45,760 a year. In Huntsville, Alabama, it would cost $37,752. In San Francisco, it would cost $68,640.
You can also look around Indiana to compare costs. For example, assisted living costs are 15.8 percent less expensive in Fort Wayne than the state average. The cost of adult day services in Evansville is nearly 10 percent less expensive than the state average.
Genworth has been conducting this survey since 2004. To gather the information, it contacted more than 43,000 providers and completed more than 15,000 surveys to come up with figures for 440 regions. (Read the full methodology here.)
So why all the data? Who really cares? Maybe you should. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of Americans will require long-term care by the time they reach 70 years of age. Meanwhile, costs keep rising just about every year.
So if you need to start socking away a few bucks every month for your golden years, here’s a place to get a reality check with the numbers.