December 1, 2009 - Some 7.5 million Americans currently receive long-term care at home because of an acute illness, long-term health condition, a permanent disability, or terminal illness according to a new report.
That compares to only 1.5 million in nursing homes and 1.1 million who reside in assisted-living communities according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which teamed up with Homewatch CareGivers to conduct a study examining trends in long-term health care and the utilization of associated support services.
"Most people incorrectly associate long-term health care with skilled nursing care in a facility when the vast majority of care takes place at home," explains Jesse Slome, Executive Director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “It is clear that the people in today’s society prefer treatment for chronic conditions and issues related to aging in their own home rather than in a residential facility.”
One aspect of the study sought to compare individuals with long-term care insurance policies with those without insurance coverage. The findings indicated that individuals with long-term care insurance receive significantly more home care, and thus can stay in their homes longer. The study found that 70.6% of those covered by long-term care insurance received an average of between five and seven days of care each week, while only 35.1% of those without insurance received similar care as often.
"When possible, home is almost always the preferred setting for people who require care," says Leann Reynolds, president of Homewatch CareGivers. “This has been a clear and growing trend for more than a decade, as more and better home services have become available. The vast majority of people want to receive support care in their homes in order to maintain independence and quality of life for as long as possible.”
Possessing insurance to pay part or all of the cost of home care services enabled individuals to receive care at home for longer periods of time. The study found that 41.2% of those with insurance received care for longer than one year; compared to 29.7% of those without coverage.
"The study confirms what we've long suspected, that a basic long-term care insurance plan costing less than $1,000 a year may provide sufficient coverage for those who want care at home and still have the ability to transition to more costly skilled facilities should the need arise," adds Slome.
According to the Urban Institute, a nonprofit founded in 1968 that conducts research on social and economic issues to foster sound public policy, 21.3 percent of the frail older population receives paid home care services and it projects this will increase to 22.3 percent by 2030 and 25.5% by 2040.
"It is vitally important for individuals to recognize the increased likelihood of needing care at some point in their lives, and to plan for that inevitability," concludes Reynolds. “Having sufficient financial resources or the protection of long-term care insurance are the prime factors for all of us who want to stay in our homes and receive care for as long as possible.”
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Founded in 1980, Homewatch CareGivers http://www.homewatchcaregivers.com/ is the largest, most experienced international provider of full-service home care for people of all ages, including seniors, children, veterans, the chronically ill, and those recovering from medical procedures. In-home care services are personalized for each client and customized care plans are administered through an international network of 111 owners with 181 territories. Founded in 1998, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance http://www.aaltci.org is the national trade organization established to educate Americans about the importance of long-term care planning. For more information visit the organization's Consumer Information Center or to access a free guide to reducing the cost of long-term care insurance click on this link: www.aaltci.org/free-guide/ .