Negotiate to Lower Costs on Home Health Care

May 11, 2011

Chicago consistently ranks above the national average when it comes to paying for things like gas, taxes and the general cost of living.

Now there is word that our whole state is paying more for assisted living facilities.

According to the Genworth 2011 Cost of Care Survey, the median annual cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility is $39,135 nationally, $41,880 in Illinois and a whopping $50,400 in the Chicago area.

young woman holding the hands of an elderly womanIf you choose to receive care in your home, which is what Americans prefer, the median hourly rate is $19 nationally, $20 in Illinois and about $20.50 in Chicago.

The one area we don’t outdo the national average is in the cost of a private nursing home. Nationally, the median annual rate for a private nursing home room is $77,745 a year. In Illinois, that amount is $63,875; in Chicago it’s $76,384.

“Understanding local caregiving expenses is an essential first step for families faced with rising care costs,” said Buck Stinson, president, U.S. Life Insurance Products at Genworth. “Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey arms consumers with the knowledge to have informed conversations, whether they are speaking with a family member, a care provider or financial professional, about how they might realistically pay for care.”

Did you know that you can negotiate with care providers to help contain costs?

Genworth offers these tips for trying to lower expenses associated with a long-term care provider:

*Know local costs: Genworth’s Cost of Care Map provides the median costs of long-term care across the country and in 10 regions of Illinois, so you can make a financial plan before investing in this type of care.

*Fee waivers: Assisted living facilities often charge a one-time fee when a client moves in. Push to have this fee waived, or try to get other discounts like a period of free rent.

*Special rates: Sometimes facilities offer special rates when residents move in at the first of the month or when there is a high vacancy rate. Ask about any special rates.

*Vacancy rates: Try to get “bumped.” If there are many vacancies, a facility might allow a resident to live in a more expensive room at a lower price.

*Lower hourly rates: When you can set long-term and predictable schedules that are easy to staff, home-care agencies might lower their hourly rate.

*Shop around: Let care providers know that you have found lower rates elsewhere for the same services. Negotiate.

*Premium waivers: Sometimes agencies charge a premium to work on weekends. But, if you also use their services regularly during the week, the agency might waive that weekend premium.

*Upgrade: Nursing homes do not usually discount their rates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a room upgrade or extra amenities out of your deal.

It’s all about negotiation and planning.

“While consumers should seek out quality and value when shopping for long term care, it is crucial that they have a financial plan in place to pay for long term care,” said Stinson. “The cost of long term care remains one of the biggest risks to one’s retirement security, especially with ever-increasing healthcare costs.”

According to Genworth, almost two-thirds of people over age 65 will need long-term care at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. On top of that, 40 percent of people currently receiving long term care services are between the ages of 18 and 64.

The eight-annual Cost of Care Survey can help families prepare for this type of responsibility. Check out to get started on your financial plan.

Categories: Economy, Education

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