April 13, 2021
People Don’t Save for a Nursing Home Stay
About 13 percent of the older people in a recent study – average age 74 – who were initially living independently moved into a nursing home within five years.
Perhaps because they know their vulnerabilities, their expectations of whether they would one day need nursing home care helped predict their actual nursing home use, the study found.
In fact, the researchers said, the accuracy of the predictions showed that the older people must have taken into account personal information that went beyond what was apparent in the 1998-2016 survey data used in the study, which included details about their health, ease of functioning, and other influences on whether they need care.
However, foresight did not translate into facing up to the financial implications of a nursing home stay.
Nursing homes are expensive, currently averaging $7,700 per month for a room that is shared with another resident. The 10 percent of older people with a private long-term care insurance policy can pay for their care. Poor people’s nursing home expenses are covered by Medicaid.
It’s the people who fall outside these two groups who aren’t always clear about how to pay for a nursing home stay if they need it. Their lack of preparation for this expense was underscored in another of the study’s findings: the people who say they’re more likely to go into a nursing home were no more likely to have built up their savings to pay for it.
Of course, Medicaid is also a backup plan for nursing home residents who start out paying for their care but run through all of their savings. This study helps to explain why Medicaid covers six in 10 nursing home residents.
To read this study, authored by Padmaja Ayyagari and Yang Wang, see “Nursing Home Use Expectations and Wealth Accumulation Among Older Adults.”
The research reported herein was derived in whole or in part from research activities performed pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) funded as part of the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium. The opinions and conclusions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not represent the opinions or policy of SSA, any agency of the federal government, or Boston College. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, make any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the contents of this report. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof.