Sharon Wexler told the Westchester County Business Journal that in Westchester, while there is wealth to go around, the costs of health care are likely higher as well. Wexler is assistant professor and program director of the Combined Degree Program at the College of Health Professions at Pace.
From the Westchester County Business Journal:
The Census Bureau released a new measure of poverty earlier this month that suggests the poverty rate among the elderly is nearly double the official rate used by the federal government.
However if nursing home and assisted-living community management companies have taken notice of the supposed rise in poverty within the 65-and-older demographic, it is surely not reflected in their rates – both nationally and in Westchester County.
While the official poverty measure used by the federal government shows a rate of 9 percent among those older than 65, the new report by the Census Bureau, which deducts medical expenses from income in its calculation, shows a 15.9 percent poverty rating for the group.
In contrast, the national average rate at both nursing homes and assisted-living facilities has far outpaced the rate of inflation, according to an October study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute in Westport, Conn.
From 2010 to 2011, the national average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home rose by 4.4 percent to $239 and for the same period, the national average monthly base rate in an assisted-living community rose by 5.6 percent to $3,447, the MetLife study said.
In Westchester, while there is more wealth to go around, the costs of care are likely higher as well, said Sharon S. Wexler, assistant professor and program director of the Combined Degree Program within the Lienhard School of Nursing at Pace University in Pleasantville.
The average cost per month at Westchester assisted-living communities is likely about $5,000, Wexler said, adding it could be significantly higher or lower depending upon each individual’s needs. That price may be affordable for many local families, but for others it is out of reach, she said.
“To some degree the wealth of these residents is insulating some of it but overall … the cost of health care is an issue,” Wexler said. “From a health care perspective, it’s very concerning because as individuals age, they need more care. My questions are, do we have all the facilities we need and can the seniors afford these facilities?”
John Migliaccio, the MetLife Mature Market Institute’s director of research, said some inflation is to be expected but this year’s numbers go beyond the typical increases.
“It’s not unusual to find some inflation on a year-to-year basis, (but) this year and last year we did find a more intense rise in those costs, particularly in nursing home costs,” he said.
The causes behind the increases are not known, but Migliaccio said they likely range from an increase in capital costs due to new developments and construction projects to increases in heating rates and other day-to-day expenditures.
While the study does not look specifically at Westchester, Migliaccio said that because of the relative wealth in the county facilities have adapted to include more luxuries and in turn tend to charge higher rates.
“From what we’ve seen, because of its proximity to New York (city) and the relative wealth of those communities, the relative costs are certainly higher than you would find on average.”