Our country is rapidly aging. The numbers of those over 65 years old will increase from 14.8% of the population (2015) to 18.8% of Americans in 2025. This growth is a huge increase from 47.7 million to 65 million, many of whom will need post-acute care.

Current Medicare spending per beneficiary aged 75-84 is 70 percent or $12,805 per person. This expenditure is primarily due to the presence of multiple chronic conditions of ever-increasing severity. Top among these conditions is heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Two thirds of our population is over-weight or obese.

The implications to Medicare of an increasingly unhealthy population are significant. Budgets to handle this are estimated to be increased from $647 billion in 2015 to $1,282 billion less than eight years from now. Seventy-three percent of this increase will be accounted for by spending on post-acute care; acute care – inclusive of re-admissions – accounts for an additional 16 percent. In 2013 there were nearly 14 million hospital discharges of Medicare beneficiaries. Approximately 5.8 million of these patients received some post-acute care.

There are many challenges and also prospects for home care agencies and skilled nursing facilities in the context of this evolving healthcare environment. One point to keep in mind – not all skilled nursing facilities are created equal. In many cases, patients have better outcomes with in-home care rather than going into a facility. Rehabilitation facilities (as well as hospitals) are breeding grounds for infections such as C. diff. (Clostridium difficile), which is seldom encountered in a home environment.

Because of this reality, a preference for home-based care as emerged. Patients not only prefer to recuperate in their own homes but generally stay healthier. Home care agencies are focusing more and more on the skills and training needed to provide continuum of care to clients upon release from a hospital or rehabilitation center.

Home care agencies have several advantages:

– A significant cost advantage compared to facility-based care.
– Preference by both patients and payers (Medicare Advantage, Medicaid) for home-based care.
– Proved reduction in future hospital re-admissions.

If you would like more information on the in-home care services provided by Companion Care for those needing post-acute care in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, please call 505-293-5858.