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Nursing home costs in the U.S. are rising even faster than health care

  • The cost of nursing homes in the U.S. can easily top $70,000 a year and has risen even faster than that of overall medical care in some states, a Georgetown University Medical Center study found.
  • New York nursing homes were the most expensive, averaging more than $300 a day, while Texas had the most affordable facilities.

Nursing home costs can cost upwards of $100,000 a year, a heavy financial burden even for Americans who have set money aside for their later years -- and a crushing one for those who haven't. And those costs are rising, even outstripping the rising cost of health care in the U.S.

"What is already expensive is only getting more so," said Dr. Sean Huang, lead author of a study by researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center.   

The cost of nursing home care is a particular risk for people without long-term care insurance or Medicaid coverage, Huang said, noting the number of Americans who are already short on retirement savings. Annual out-of-pocket expenditures can easily exceed $70,000, found the analysis of prices from 2005 through 2010 across eight U.S. states.

"For someone who is not poor enough for Medicaid or who doesn't have long-term care insurance, this will be a huge financial burden," Huang told CBS MoneyWatch. 

High health insurance deductibles are causing financial hardship

For-profit nursing home chains were the least expensive, while nonprofit chains were the most costly, according to the report. Independently operated for-profit and nonprofit facilities were similarly priced. Nursing homes in New York had the highest average cost in the U.S. at $302.30 per day, while Texas had the lowest at $121.90, according to the study, which drew on data from 2005 to 2010. Over that period, costs in the eights states rose faster than the roughly 20% increase in overall medical care prices.

Most Americans are eligible for Medicare at 65, with the government program covering some routine and emergency health care, but not long-term care, such as that provided by nursing homes. Although it's cheaper to buy long-term care insurance in your 40s and 50s, most people don't, focusing instead on other financial priorities like paying for a child's college expenses. 

That can prove costly. Huang noted that three-quarters of Americans 65 and older will need to use a nursing home at some point, but only a small fraction had long-term care coverage.