(Elder) Figures Never Lie …


Discussions about the future of long-term care in the United States are obviously dependent on the current and projected extent of the need for care. While many working in the field have an intuitive feel for the frequency of use of nursing homes, the statistics can nonetheless be surprising.

Admission Rates

According to a 1991 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, 33% of men turning 65 in the prior year would spend at least some time in a nursing home. For women, that number grew to 52%.

While total admissions for women are significantly higher, short-term admissions are much less sex-dependent. Of that same 65-year-old group, 21% of women and 19% of men will be admitted for stays of less than one year. But for longer stays, women begin to dramatically outnumber men.

10% of men and 18% of women will spend between one and five years in the nursing home. Only 4% of the 65-year-old men will spend more than five years in the nursing home, while 13% of their female counterparts will do so.

Nursing Home Financing

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, over half of the cost of nursing home care is paid by the federal-state Medicaid program (ALTCS in Arizona). The actual figure is 51.7% of all nursing home costs, compared to 8.8% for the Medicare program and 2.2% for other public programs.

Long-term care insurance and medical insurance account for 2.4% of nursing home costs, with private programs (such as charities) provide 2.2%.

The remaining 33% of nursing home costs are paid by patients from their income and savings. It is not clear, however, whether the patients’ “share of cost” contributions to Medicaid coverage are included in this statistic.

1996 Medicare and Social Security Rates

Although numbers may change as the budget compromise takes final shape, 1996 numbers for Medicare and Social Security are currently in place. Until further changes, the following figures apply:

Medicare Part A

Hospital Deductible $736/illness
Daily Coinsurance (Hospital)
Days 1-60 $0
Days 61-90 $184
Lifetime Reserve $368
Daily Coinsurance (Skilled Nursing)
Days 1-20 $0
Days 21-100 $92
Premium (for those not otherwise qualified) $289/month

Medicare Part B

Premium $42.50/month
Deductible $100/year
20% of approved charge
Balance Billing
15% of approved charge

Social Security

Cost of Living Adjustment 2.6%
Retirement Earnings Limits
Age 65-69 $11,520/year ($960/month)
($1 in benefits withheld for every $3 of earnings over the limit)
Under 65 $8,280/year ($690/month)
($1 in benefits withheld for every $2 of earnings over the limit)
Maximum SSI Benefit
Individuals $470/month
Couples $705/month

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