Retirement & Financial Planning Report

The costs of long-term care continue to rise, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute, which has been conducting a widely cited benchmark study of nursing home and other types of living assistance care for a decade.

The findings commonly are used by financial advisers to underscore the importance of considering coverage such that available on the open market or to federal employees and retirees through the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. Of particular concern is determining a target daily benefit amount of protection to purchase, and whether to purchase inflation protection. The FLTCIP, like other such programs, offers various options in both areas.

The most recent study found that the national average rates for nursing homes increased by about 4 percent in 2012. The average for a private nursing home room increased to $248 daily, $90,520 annually and the cost for a semi-private room increased to $222 daily or $81,030 annually.

Costs varied considerably by location, however, with the lowest costs of $147 and $131 per day, respectively, in parts of rural Oklahoma and Texas, while the costs ranged up to $687 and $682 per day in parts of Alaska.

Assisted living community rates rose by about 2 percent, to $3,550 monthly or $42,600 annually, with the lowest cost in rural Arkansas of about $2400 monthly and the highest in Washington, D.C. of about $5,900 monthly.

And while the national average private-pay hourly rates for home health aides remained unchanged at $21, the national average hourly rate for a homemaker increased from $19 to $20—also with variation by locality, with more rural areas less expensive and more urban areas more expensive.