NEW YORK — The steep cost of caring for the elderly continues to climb. The median bill for a private room in a nursing home is now $91,250 a year, according to an industry survey out Thursday.

The annual “Cost of Care” report from Genworth Financial tracks the staggering rise in expenses for long-term care, a growing financial burden for families, governments and insurers like Genworth. The cost of staying in a nursing home has increased 4 percent every year over the last five years, the report says. Last year, the median bill was $87,600.

The annual report from Genworth, which sells policies to cover long-term care, looks at costs for a variety of services, including adult day care, and home health aides. And nursing home bills are rising at the fastest pace, twice the rate of U.S. inflation over the last five years. One year in a nursing home now costs nearly as much as three years of tuition at a private college.

For its report, Genworth surveyed 15,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other providers across the country in January and February. It found wide differences from state to state. In Oklahoma, for instance, the median cost for a year in a nursing home came out to $60,225. In Connecticut, it was $158,775. Alaska had the highest costs by far, with one year at $281,415.

So, who pays the nursing-home bill? “A lot of people believe Medicare will step in and cover them, but that’s just not true,” said Bruce Chernoff, president and CEO of The Scan Foundation, a charitable organization. Medicare will cover some short visits for recovery after a surgery, for instance, but not long-term stays.

Often enough, experts say senior citizens wind up spending their savings until they hit their last $2,000, and at that point they can turn to Medicaid, the government’s health insurance for the poor, to help cover the bill.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.