Half Of Americans Are Likely To Spend A Night In A Nursing Home
More than half of Americans ages 57 to 61 will “stay in a nursing home at least one night during their lifetime,” which is much earlier in life than pervious estimates, according to new research from RAND Corp.
The new study is in contrast to earlier estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that say only 35% of older Americans are likely to use a nursing home later in their lifetimes.
“We found that 56% of persons aged 57–61 will stay at least one night in a nursing home during their lifetimes , but only 32% of the cohort will pay anything out of pocket,” said the study, led by RAND researchers and published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The increase may be due to the increase in the number of shorter stays in nursing homes. Aging baby boomers are known to need nursing home care for myriad conditions in later life, from knee and hip replacements to heart surgeries, and increasingly, recovery is outside the hospital and in a nursing home facility thanks to reforms of Medicaid and Medicare insurance.
In part because the stays are shorter, only about one-third of these Americans will pay anything out of pocket for their care. “Averaged over all persons, total out-of-pocket expenditures looking forward from age 57 were approximately $7,300, discounted at 3% per year,” RAND research shows. “However, the 95th percentile of spending was almost $47,000.”
Researchers said the study is important for Americans as they plan for their health-care needs and related costs as they become older. “This information could help people make better decisions about how they or their loved ones will pay for the care they are likely to need,” Michael Hurd, lead author of the study and a senior principal researcher at RAND, said in a statement accompanying the report.
Just one in 10 among those age 60 and older buy long-term-care insurance given the availability of Medicaid coverage, which has expanded to millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act. “One important reason for this low take-up (of long-term care coverage) is that Medicaid provides insurance of last resort,” RAND research shows.
The study was based on “18 years of data” drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, which is a project of the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration. The institute on aging funded the research, RAND said.