January 17, 2023

New Report: Home Health Serves an Older, Sicker, Poorer Patient Population

A new report confirms what we have always known: Home healthcare patients are among the sickest and most vulnerable beneficiaries in the Medicare program.

The 2022 Home Care Chartbook, recently released by Research Institute for Home Care (RIHC), offers a detailed overview of the home health landscape.

According to the Chartbook, compared to the Medicare population as a whole:

  • Home health patients are older. 28% of all Medicare home health users are over the age of 85, compared to 10.7% of all Medicare beneficiaries who are this old.
  • Home health patients are sicker. 45% of all Medicare home health users have five or more chronic conditions, 17.3% have four chronic conditions, 13.8% have three chronic conditions and 23.9% have between zero and two chronic conditions. By comparison, just 22.8% of all Medicare beneficiaries have five or more chronic conditions.
  • Home health patients are poorer. Nearly half (49.5%) of all Medicare home health patients have incomes of less than $25,000 per year. This is a marked difference from the Medicare population at large, where 67.4% of all patients have incomes of more than $25,000 per year.

This data underscores the important role that home health plays in protecting and caring for our most vulnerable seniors. Thanks to quality home health services, these at-risk vulnerable patients can remain in their homes and receive necessary skilled nursing and therapy services, while avoiding unnecessary inpatient care and hospital stays.

As Congress works to set their agenda for the new year, it will be imperative that access to home healthcare is protected for this vulnerable population by advancing policies that protect the Medicare home health benefit.