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The Use, Cost, and Economic Burden of Nursing Home Care in 1985

Publication Date
Dec 31, 1988

This study uses the 1985 National Nursing Home Survey to examine the use and cost of nursing home care among the elderly population of the United States. The following questions are addressed: How many persons aged 65+ use nursing homes in a given year? How do they stay and what are their annual charges? How often, and to what extent, do residents "spenddown" to Medicaid? How much of the annual charges are paid by the various payers; in particular, what are annual out-of-pocket costs? The study found that approximately 2.1 million persons age 65+ (7.5% of the U.S. elderly population) spent some time in a nursing home during 1985. Over 70% were women and nearly two-thirds were single, widowed or divorced women. Mean charges per nursing home user in 1985 were $9,600 and median charges were $7,700. About 53% of 1985 nursing home costs were paid privately, out-of-pocket, 35% by Medicaid, 8% by Medicare, and 4% by other sources. About 22% of nursing home residents who initially entered as private pay patients became eligible for Medicaid during their stay. [28 PDF pages]