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Long Term Care: Can it Keep Up with Aging Population?

It is no secret that the aging population has a huge impact on the healthcare system. Public healthcare and finance systems have to transition to keep up with the societal aging. The amount of seniors have been growing more rapidly since the baby boomer population started turning 65 several years ago, and at the same time their longevity has increased. The shift in US demographics has added pressure on the demand from providers and suppliers in the long term care industry. According to the CDC, the life expectancy in the U.S. is about 78.8 years and is estimated to be over 80 by 2020. The correlation between aging and healthcare shows that spending is growing with the aging population.

Those 65 and older are responsible for 36% of U.S. healthcare spending through Medicare and Medicaid, according to a report by the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA). Elderly care shifted from home care to assisted living facilities (ALFs) and independent living facilities (ILFs) in the 1960s and now starting to shift back to home care. Although home care is easily accessible and convenient, ALFs and ILFs appeal to patients because they offer wide varieties of amenities to customize different situations and capabilities. Therefore, both the home care and facility care markets are growing.

The Wall Street Journal claims that senior-care businesses are one of “the hottest trends” and those healthcare aides, both at home and at facilities, are among the fastest growing occupations. Some assisted living facilities are even considered a “concierge” service, offering anything from full kitchens to exercise rooms and beauty salons to accommodate and satisfy patients across the board. The below table shows the largest 5-star skilled nursing facilities (SNF) ranked by the number of staffed beds, according to the Definitive Healthcare database:

Largest 5-Star Skilled Nursing Facilities (by # of Staffed Beds)

Skilled Nursing Facility Name City State # of Staffed Beds Network
1 NHC Healthcare  Athens Athens TN 1,448 National HealthCare Corporation
2 Henry J Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility New York NY 1,389 NYC Health and Hospitals
3 Iowa Veterans Home Marshalltown IA 815 Department Of Veterans Affairs
4 The Bronx Campus of Jewish Home Lifecare Bronx NY 744 Jewish Home Lifecare
5 Cedarbrook Nursing Home Allentown PA 727
6 Bronx Harbor Health Care Complex Bronx Ny 720

Although long-term care facilities offer the medical staffing and assortment of social opportunities that appeal to the aging populations and their families, recently patients have been shifting back to home care. Costs at assisted living facilities and nursing homes have risen at an annual rate of more than 4 percent over the last five years, according to CNBC. With costs and accessibility being a couple factors influencing the shift, home care is a growing market. The increase in technological advances in medical equipment makes it possible to fit this lifestyle. According to HIDA, the assisted living segment is forecasted to double by 2030. Will healthcare providers and suppliers be able to keep up with the change?

Definitive Healthcare has the most up-to-date, comprehensive and integrated data on over 7,700 hospitals, 1.4 million physicians, and numerous other healthcare providers. It includes extensive analytics capabilities for inpatient and outpatient diagnoses and procedures at hospitals and ASCs.

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