Higher Demand for Assisted Living Creates Waiting Lists, Higher Prices for Care
Increased demand for assisted living facilities has made waiting lists “increasingly common” and has led to higher prices, the Wall Street Journal reports. Occupancy at the 36,000 assisted living facilities nationwide has reached “near saturation” at 95%, and the average annual cost for such facilities — without health care expenses — reached about $35,000 in 2005, a 33% increase from 2002, according to a recent survey by MetLife. Medicaid in most cases does not provide coverage for assisted living facilities, although some states have begun to allow coverage for such facilities, which cost less than nursing homes, to reduce costs. According to the Journal, “All of this is placing added burdens on consumers shopping” for assisted living facilities, which often are “tough to compare” because of differences in state regulations on the facilities and differences in their options packages. The Journal provides a number of recommendations to help consumers select assisted living facilities (Opdyke, Wall Street Journal, 9/2).