Could You Afford Home Health Care? New Study Says No for Many Seniors June 12, 2019 14:35

The seniors most likely to need paid home care to maintain independent living are the least likely to be able to afford it long-term, a new study reports.

Only two out of five older adults with significant disabilities have the assets on hand to pay for at least a couple of years of extensive in-home care, researchers found.

Home Health Care  Without some help, those elderly are much more likely to wind up in a nursing home, said lead researcher Richard Johnson. He is a senior fellow with the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center, in Washington, D.C.

 

"We have this perception that the risk of becoming frail is evenly distributed across the population, but it's really not," Johnson said. "It is more concentrated among people with less education, lower lifetime earnings and less wealth."

 

Paid home care can significantly improve the lives of older adults with disabilities and their families, but recipients often incur substantial out-of-pocket spending. We simulated the financial burden of paid home care for a nationally representative sample of non-Medicaid community-dwelling adults ages sixty-five and older.

We found that 74 percent could fund at least two years of a moderate amount of paid home care if they liquidated all of their assets, and 58 percent could fund at least two years of an extensive amount of paid home care. Among older adults with significant disabilities, however, only 57 percent could fund at least two years of moderate paid home care by liquidating all of their assets, and 40 percent could fund at least two years of extensive paid home care. Paid home care could become less affordable if growing labor shortages raise future costs.

 

The new study appears in the June issue of the journal Health Affairs.