Estimates predict by 2030, the number of Americans aged 65-years and older will reach 78 million, outnumbering those under the age of 18 for the first time in the U.S. As the ranks of America’s aging population grow and outnumber the people who can take care of them, seniors face a supply-and-demand crisis.
These population predictions become even more serious when factoring in the number of available family caregivers, which is simultaneously expected to drop. Without family caregivers available to take care of them, seniors’ ability to get the care they need risks being compromised. Non-clinical in-home care may help fill in the gap and be an important part of a wider long-term care solution.
Non-Clinical Home Care Can Simplify Life & Improve Health
What is non-clinical in-home care? It is care in the home provided by non-clinical caregivers who assist with activities of daily living. Going to the grocery store. Picking up prescriptions. Cooking nutritious meals. Cleaning the house. Running errands. Life is full of seemingly simple activities that otherwise healthy individuals can easily take for granted. However, these activities of daily living become increasingly challenging for seniors dealing with chronic health conditions that decrease strength, sight, balance, and mobility.
In-home care is ideal to help seniors with these daily activities and more. From housekeeping to transportation to cooking, in-home caregivers can serve as critical solution providers in the healthcare continuum for our seniors.
Non-Clinical In-Home Care Can Supplement a Family’s Support System
Recent research indicated that a record 64 million Americans live in multigenerational households. These groups are disproportionately caring for aging parents and grandparents.
The primary burden of family caregiving, however, falls most heavily on women, our nation’s daughters. An estimated 66% of all family caregivers are women who provide an average of 20 hours per week of unpaid care. This care is not “free.” Many women pay significant financial, emotional, and health costs as a result. The stress of providing long-term care – hospice, palliative care, post-acute care, long-term illness, dementia, Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions – can easily be overwhelming.
The caregiver shortage and burden increases in complexity for all of America’s family caregivers when senior loved ones live in geographically distant locations. With thoughts constantly crossing state borders to think of loved ones who need care and help, it can be difficult for family caregivers to stay focused on their own lives, careers, or children.
Family caregiving can be taxing in a variety of ways, but non-clinical home care can help by supplementing a family’s support system, relieving concerns, and providing confidence that their loved ones are receiving necessary care and attention. Home health aides, health aide services, homemaker services, and other care aides can provide important physical and psychological benefits.
Payers Have an Opportunity to Help with In-Home Care
Most families today pay for non-clinical in-home care out of pocket, but now health insurance companies, also known as payers, are in a unique position to help solve the problem of long-term care.
Thanks to recent CMS policy changes, payers are uniquely positioned to offer in-home care to Medicare Advantage seniors by incorporating home care into their benefits packages. Non-clinical home care addresses seniors’ social determinants of health and can give Medicare Advantage beneficiaries a better quality of life, greater independence, improved health, and lower overall healthcare costs.
A group of researchers in Queens, New York, for example, found strong correlations between housing conditions and senior health. They revealed that Medicare beneficiaries given “affordable housing with supportive social services” – including bathing, grooming, and preparing meals – used hospital services less. Fewer hospital visits mean lower healthcare costs. Therefore, in-home care is win-win for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and payers. Seniors can live healthy lives and benefit from lower hospital readmission rates and Medicare Advantage health insurance plans can benefit from lower healthcare costs.
Today, in-home personal care currently remains outside the larger health insurance ecosystem for many health plans – but that needs to change and is beginning to change. Now more than ever, private insurers have the tools and ability to drive the conversation, provide support services, and improve outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries via covered in-home care insurance benefits.