5 Most Expensive States for Home Health in 2015

The cost of home care services continues to grow more slowly than the cost of assisted living and nursing home care, according to newly released findings from insurance company Genworth.

“This gradual increase in cost for home care is good news for many consumers,” the 2015 Cost of Care Survey report states, noting that most people prefer to age in their own homes. The report was released Thursday and is the 12th annual edition. Last year’s also found that home care costs are rising more slowly than costs for facility-based care.

The five-year annual growth rate for home health aide costs is 1.03%, according to the latest report. This compares with a 2.48% growth rate for assisted living and a 4.17% rate for private nursing home rooms.

Currently, the national median hourly rate for a home health aide is $20. This is a 1.27% increase over the 2014 rate, the latest report states.

The median annual cost for an aide is $45,760 on a national basis. However, as is the case for other types of care, home care costs vary significantly from state to state.

These are the five most expensive states for home health aide services, based on median annual cost:

  • North Dakota—$62,142
  • Alaska—$59,488
  • Massachusetts, Minnesota (tied)—$57,200
  • Rhode Island—$56,925
  • Hawaii—$56,056

The list is similar to the one from 2014, but North Dakota is new to the top position, as costs surged from $57,589 last year. Costs are down in neighboring Minnesota, which last year came in at $58,916.

Louisiana ($36,608), West Virginia ($36,608), Mississippi ($37,752) and Alabama ($37,752) are among the most affordable states for home health aides.

Home care homemaker services costs are increasing more rapidly than costs for aides, the survey found. The current national median hourly rate is $20, and this is a 2.63% increase over 2014. The five-year annual growth rate for homemaker services is 1.61%.

Geographically, median annual costs for homemaker services follow similar patterns as the costs for aides, with North Dakota posting a high of $59,854.

Midwest states, including North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, also ranked as some of the most expensive for home health aides in a recent survey conducted by LTCG, a firm that helps insurers manage long-term care portfolios.

And while the Genworth findings emphasize the slow growth in home health costs, the actual dollar amounts that people are paying for home health aide services each year might be similar to those they are paying for assisted living care, according to a recently released pricing index from senior care referral service A Place for Mom.

The Genworth data show that the median annual cost for a single-occupancy, one bedroom assisted living unit is lower—at $43,200—than the median annual cost for home health aide services.

The Genworth report is based on information compiled by CareScout, which contacted more than 47,000 providers and gleaned 15,000 completed surveys.

This year’s survey was accompanied by a special complementary study, “Aging Across Generations.” The current generation of young adults, termed Millennials, do not believe their parents have prepared well for long-term care needs, and they are determined to be more prepared, according to the investigation into how different generations view aging and long-term care needs.

More than a quarter of Millennials who were polled (27%) assigned a failing grade to their parents’ planning for senior living needs, and more than half (56%) said they think they are better informed and will plan better for themselves.

“Millennials have more insight and information available to us than any generation before, and Genworth’s study shows we’re determined to use it all,” said Nadira Hira, journalist and author of a forthcoming book on Millennials and leadership, in a statement. “What remains to be seen is whether we can translate that intellectual awareness into meaningful action.”

The complete Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey is available for download, including the state-by-state cost breakdowns for the various long-term care options.

Written by Tim Mullaney