The Cost of Nursing Home Care is $60,000 a year

Consider one statistic: Only six percent of American adults hold a long-term care insurance policy even though 23 percent of those who turned 65 in 2000 will require nursing home care for at least a year at some point in their lives.

Add one more fact: Nursing home care costs an average of $168 a day, or more than $60,000 a year. The nursing home bill for one ailing elder is almost double the amount that the average full-time worker earns each year in the United States.

And think about one more thing: About 8 million elderly Americans need long-term care today but that number is expected to soar to 19 million in the next 50 years.

All these numbers mean nursing home care for America's aging population will pose an enormous financial and health care challenge in the not so distant future.

The burden falls not only on individual families, which will struggle to provide for parents and grandparents, but ultimately on taxpayers, who will end up paying most of the bill. Almost three-fourths of nursing home care is publicly funded by Medicaid and Medicare, the two federal health care programs for the elderly and the poor.

The Heinz Family Philanthropies has produced a new set of fact cards on long-term care for decision makers in and out of government. The information campaign grows out of the belief of Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, that solid facts must always be the basis for defining and solving public policy problems.

"As the baby boomer generation deals with the needs of aging parents and approaches its own retirement years, the question of long-term care is emerging front and center in American life,'' said Teresa Heinz. "We hope that our new Facts About cards on long-term care will help lead decision makers to realistic and practical answers.''

The set of pocket-sized, laminated cards contains a concise compilation of the most up-to-date facts and statistics on long-term care, the nursing home population, elder home care, the cost of nursing homes and a breakdown on who pays the bill for long-term care.

Production of the cards is underwritten by Highmark, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit corporation that provides insurance products to more than 23 million customers in the United States.

The long-term care Facts About cards are the fifth in a series. Since 2002, the Heinz Family Philanthropies has distributed more than 100,000 cards on prescription drugs, health insurance, health care costs, women's pensions and retirement benefits, and the health of college students. To learn more, visit the Heinz Family Philanthropies Web site at

Nursing home care for America's aging population poses an enormous financial and health care challenge.

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