If you thought the percentage of annual medical inflation in the U.S.  was high at 3.7% in September 2010, hang on to your wallets: the cost of long-term health care in America is increasing even faster than medical costs every year. Assisted living costs increased 5.2% between 2009 and 2010, and the cost of a private room in a nursing home grew 4.6%.

If you live in Alaska, you’re particularly hard hit if you need long-term care: the highest rate for a semi-private nursing home room in that Last Frontier state is $610 for a semi-private room and $687 for a private room.

These sobering stats come to us by way of MetLife’s 2010 market survey of nursing home, assisted living, adult day services, and home care costs, the Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs. This is MetLife’s Mature Market Institute’s 9th survey of its kind since launching it in 2002.

On average, the daily rate for a private room in a nursing home is $229 a day; that nets out to $83,585 a year. For adult day services, the daily average rate is $67, for an annual cost of just under $25K.

This telephone survey was conducted in all 50 U.S. states and DC between May and August 2010.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Reading MetLife’s numbers makes you hearken back to the Who’s My Generation prayer, “Hope I die before I get old.”

The Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) has estimated in its 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey that 61% of U.S. adults are not confident about paying for long-term care expenses — compared with 56% 2009. Nearly 1 in two American workers are not confident, overall, that they’ll have enough money to retire comfortably.

This thinking is based on consumers’ understanding of long-term care costs, which MetLife tells us are rising even faster than general and even medical inflation. Yet there is a prescription for lowering long-term care costs that’s found in emerging and existing technologies for remote health monitoring and mobile health applications.

Laurie Orlov covers this implication brilliantly in her blog, Aging in Place Technology Watch. Her take: there’s a mis-alignment of payment and incentives that promote peoples’ aging at home and in appropriate care settings vis-a-vis traditional nursing homes and Old School home care reimbursement regimes. While technology platforms, products and tools are being developed, there’s not a ready market for them to penetrate and be adopted by a mass market. As Orlov rightly bluntly and rightly puts it, “The dilemma — recognition that those who will benefit most may be least able to pay for it as currently marketed and priced — and until adoption is greater, price reductions and bundling into broader solutions is unlikely.”

Health policymakers and health benefit designers, take heed: the inevitable economic bust of long-term care on the currently-configured Medicare and Medicaid systems, as well as tapped-out Baby Boomers’ budgets, will require the re-imagining of long-term care. Listen to Laurie Orlov.