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Report details nursing home use, expense

March 12, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Use and expenses of non-recurring healthcare services—such as overnight nursing home stays, home healthcare, use of special facilities, overnight hospital stays and outpatient surgery—increase with age, according to a recent issue brief from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

“Nursing-home stays, in particular, can be very expensive,” according to EBRI, which notes that for people aged 85 or more years, the average nursing home expenses were $24,185 and the 90th percentile was $66,600 during the two-year study period of 2010 to 2012. The report is titled “Utilization Patterns and Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Different Health Care Services Among American Retirees.”

Nursing home stays, use of home healthcare and overnight hospital stays occur at a much higher rate in the period preceding death compared with their occurrence at other times in life, the brief says. “More than 50 percent in every age group above age 65 received in-home healthcare from a medically trained person before death,” 62 percent of those aged 85 or more years had overnight nursing home stays before they died, and 52 percent were living in a nursing home before they died, researchers found.

Women aged more than 85 years were found to have significantly higher nursing home usage than men.

The study aimed to distinguish between more and less predictable healthcare expenses in retirement for Americans aged 65 or more years. Visits to physicians and dentists, as well as the use of prescription drugs, were categorized as recurring healthcare services and were found to remain stable throughout retirement, averaging $1,885 per year among the Medicare-eligible population.