Trends Impacting Long Term Care
There are various trends that are impacting long term care for seniors, especially in relation to quality and costs. Some of these trends include the adoption of technology in healthcare, increasing healthcare costs, using non-traditional health insurance, change in payment approach and business models and increased labor shortage in the sector.
Information for this research was obtained from credible news and industry publications. Some of these resources include Wall Street Journal, Research and Markets, New York Times, Forbes and Journal of Aging and Geriatric Medicine. Additionally, we also looked at published whitepapers such as 2018 Senior Living Trends and consultancies such as McKinsey. Based on these resources, we were able to identify the trends that have an impact on long term care for seniors.
FIVE TRENDS IMPACTING LONG TERM CARE FOR SENIORS, SPECIFICALLY AROUND COSTS AND QUALITY
INCREASING LABOR SHORTAGE
By 2018, there were about 67 million baby boomers, and this comprises the aging population. Based on these numbers, there is limited labor to provide the long term care that is required by these seniors. The issue is worse in circumstances whereby seniors need daily assistance, and there are few caregivers to provide such services to all seniors. One factor that contributes to the problem is the low compensation of caregivers, which results in few people working in the field.
As such, Fair Care Pledge, advocates for the fair compensation of caregivers which includes giving them paid time off. Similarly, CliftonLarsonAllen, a consultancy also notes that the low pay for caregivers negatively affects the retention of employees in the field.
CHANGE IN PAYMENT APPROACH AND BUSINESS MODEL
In the healthcare system, most companies are changing their business model to a value-based model from the traditional fee-for-service model. Based on this approach, patients are treated as part of a family, and this leads to increased customer loyalty, improved health, and better brand reputation. As such, companies are being encouraged to reduce issues associated with offering long term services and the available payment options. This can be achieved by facilitating collaboration between patients, service providers, and payers, leading to increased efficiency and affordability.
Examples of healthcare companies that use the value-based model include Intermountain Healthcare and Mayo Clinic. Benefits they derive from this model include better relationships with their clients, management of risks and sustainability. Additionally, state Medicaid agencies have also adopted the model.
INCREASING COST OF INSURANCE PREMIUMS
There has been a sharp increase in the cost of health insurance, which makes it expensive for seniors. As such, this makes it difficult for them to access long-term care, which they need at all times. The problem is made worse by insurance companies that miscalculate payouts, leading to higher payouts and increased premiums for patients.
Additionally, even though Medicaid pays for long term services that are accessed by seniors, the patient must pay some percentage from their pocket. Given that the bills can be over $100,000 annually, many seniors lack the funds required to meet their portion. This strains seniors financially, and since the demand for these services continues to increase, these cost of healthcare is also expected to rise. One example is senior policyholders of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, whose insurance premiums are set to increase by 94% by 2021.
PROVIDING HEALTHCARE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
There is an increase in the adoption of virtual healthcare whereby patients can access services from their homes. This has been coupled by the use of artificial intelligence by medical personnel which minimizes the paperwork needed when dealing with patients. Technology is being adopted by Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) whereby it is requesting various service providers to adopt virtual check-ins for patients. Similarly, Telehealth is being included in existing health plans.
Some of the options that are being considered in the future include the use of robots to improve the quality of life for their seniors. Additionally, these technological solutions such as telehealth and E-visits also improve the productivity of physicians. Both the Baltimore and Ritz Carlton Residences use VirtualHealth to provide healthcare for their senior clients.
USING NON-TRADITIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE
There are new policies, known as hybrid policies, that are being developed to eliminate the heavy costs associated with traditional health insurance. The policies feature a single premium payment which also acts as a life insurance policy. Consequently, more patients are purchasing these types of insurance and more than 260,000 such policies were sold in 2017.