N.J. scores surprisingly well on home health care costs, study finds

With the rising costs of health care concerning most residents, New Jersey may be surprised to learn it ranks as one of the most affordable when it comes to a particular aspect:

Home health care.

SeniorLiving.org released Tuesday a study on States with the Most Affordable Home Health Care, using the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Genworth and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

New Jersey ranks No. 5 in the nation, with patients spending nearly 72% of their annual household income on care inside the home.

While that is not sustainable for most, consider this: in Washington, residents spend more than 145% of their annual household income on home health care; in Maine, 112%; in Montana, 108%; and in Oregon and South Dakota, 106%.

Maryland ranked No. 1, with patients spending nearly 65%; West Virginia and the District of Columbia, No. 2 and No. 3, at nearly 69%; and Connecticut, No. 4 at nearly 71%.

The national median percentage is 91%, meaning that 44 hours per week of a home health aide would cost more than 9 out of every 10 dollars of household income.

Still, on average, a home health aide costs nearly $50,000, while a room at a full-time nursing care facility can cost nearly double that.

As the average age of U.S. residents increases, the cost of home health care is projected to increase by 72%, to $200 billion annually, by 2027. This marks the largest expected increase of any other care category, including prescriptions (60%) and hospital care (56%).

The only good news comes for those studying medicine: demand for home health aides also is expected to surge through 2027, rising by 47%.