Study examines private home health care utilization
By Jesse Slome
American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance
More women receive privately paid for care at home for lingering health issues with more obtaining this care at older ages than men, according to a new report from the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). Nearly 60 percent of those receiving care were women, with over 80 percent aged 75 or older, the study found.
Most studies include home care services paid for by Medicare or Medicaid, which do not reflect the usage for the vast majority of individuals who pay privately or have long term care insurance coverage. The independently conducted study examined the usage of home care services received by 1,000 men and women during a one-week period in March 2010.
The vast majority of both men and women home care recipients were over age 71, and most received care for three days a week or less. The study found that 88.6 percent of users were women age 71 or older, compared to 81.1 percent who were men. When it came to number of service days per week, two-thirds (66 percent) of women utilized private in home care for three days a week or less. Just under half (49 percent) of men received care for three days or less. The remainder paid for four or more days.
Both men and women appear to pay for about the same number of hours of care per day, the study found. One-fourth of women (24 percent) received only one hour of (daily) care, while three-fourths (76 percent) received care for seven hours or less. That compared to 73 percent of men. Costs for home health care vary by the type of services required, as well as by location, experts note. The average cost today is about $20 an hour. Someone needing care three days a week for six hours a day is looking at a cost of between $20,000 and $25,000 annually, which is why increasingly, individuals purchase long term care insurance with a home care benefit.
The number of days on which care was required varied significantly by age. The study compared care usage among men and women age 64 with those aged 82 years. People do need long term care services at younger ages, typically as a result of accidents or illnesses. The Association reports that the vast majority (90.7 percent) of long term care insurance claims begin after age 70. According to the study, some 20 percent of women age 64 received care for a seven-day period, while another 40 percent received care for five days during the weeklong period. Only 25.3 percent of women age 82 needed care for five days per week or more.
Approximately 7.6 million individuals currently receive home care because of an acute illness, long-term health condition, permanent disability, or terminal illness, according to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. Annual expenditures for home health care are $60 billion.
The comprehensive findings of the study will be published in the 2010 Long Term Care Insurance Sourcebook, which is available from the Association. A leading national home care service company that examined only individuals receiving care services paid for individually or reimbursed by their long term care insurance conducted the study for the industry's trade organization.
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