The age structure of the population, cost of services, disability rates and workforce issues are the four factors that will most influence the cost of long-term care, according to the lead author of a comprehensive study on the topic. Conducted for the Annapolis, Md.-based National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry by research institute RTI International, the NIC Compendium Project: A Guide to Long-Term Care Projection and Simulation Models offers analysis of major studies and models that project the need, demand and costs of long-term care for seniors. The research project is intended to be a resource for policymakers, providers and consumers.
Using the CMS National Health Accounts data, the compendium said overall long-term-care expenditures for older people and persons with disabilities increased $161.1 billion in 2005 from about $95.4 billion in 1995. And spending on long-term care has roughly doubled from 1995 to 2005 for both Medicare and Medicaid, although Medicare is primarily for post-acute care, rather than for long-term supportive services. Total Medicaid spending for long-term care was $83.6 billion in 2005, compared with $39.8 billion in 1995, while Medicare spending for home health and nursing homes was $37 billion in 2005, compared with $19.6 billion in 1995.
In a conference call about the report, lead author Joshua Wiener, a senior fellow and program director for aging, disability and long-term care at RTI, discussed the areas that will have the greatest effect on the industry.
As I mentioned in a study, inflation in long-term care will be very substantialand whether its 4%, 6% or 8%, (it) will have an enormous effect on the future.
Disability rates will also influence this segment, said Wiener, who added that conditions such as obesity and diabetes will likely result in a rise in disability rates that were seen in the early 1980s. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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