According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Dallas is among the nation’s fastest-growing cities in the U.S. and, with that growth, Dallas’ senior population is booming. As a result, Dallas is facing increased challenges to provide adequate long-term and post-acute care for patients–especially for seniors. To face these challenges, businesses and the Dallas community must address the changing healthcare needs of seniors, complicated insurance and payment systems, current advances in healthcare technology, legislative developments, and shifts in the consumer and market environment.
Payment and insurance
While individuals of any age may need long-term care, most people in need of this type of service are senior citizens. The most significant segments of the long-term care industry include: nursing care, home care, hospice care, and assisted living. It’s no secret long-term care can be extremely expensive, combined with the turmoil in the insurance industry leads to a significant challenge for Dallas residents.
However, changes to the insurance system have begun to provide alternative payment methods for Dallas’ senior population. Bundled payments allow healthcare providers to receive a single payment covering all senior needs for a specific “episode of care.” Additionally, Medicaid in Dallas has moved from the often costly fee-for-service model toward the new managed long-term care delivery approach, which gives providers financial incentives to offer the services needed to keep patients healthy and at home longer to help reduce long-term care costs.
Dallas residents in need of long-term senior care have several options available to help fund the high costs. For the financially fortunate, private pay allows seniors to pay for their long-term care needs out-of-pocket. Created by private insurers and Texas, Dallas residents are also eligible for the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, an incentive for residents to plan ahead for their long-term healthcare needs. Seniors with limited income can avail themselves of Texas’ Medicaid program, but keep in mind Texas is an income cap state, which means in order to qualify for long-term benefits, a hard income limit is in place.
Despite the cost of long-term care, changes in healthcare technology provide seniors with the opportunity for improved quality of life while reducing overall costs. The Internet of Things health monitoring systems allow healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patients and act quickly to help prevent hospitalization and reduce readmission rates. Furthermore, cloud computing allows healthcare providers to reduce operational costs, increase flexibility, and improve in-care communications to give seniors the care they deserve. Of course, both seniors and healthcare businesses in Dallas need to keep an eye on changing healthcare legislation and the consumer and market environment impacting the long-term care industry.
According to “Elder Care Services to 2018” by ReportsnReports, growth in senior care services will be spurred by the baby boom generation, modified regulations, improved patient coverage, and increased flexibility for seniors. The report also notes a significant change in the healthcare sector. While skilled nursing facilities accounted for the largest share of senior care revenue in 2013, by 2018 home healthcare is expected to show strong growth as the aging population’s preferences shift toward a desire to remain at home as long as possible. Because of the advances in technology such as IoT remote health monitoring systems and personal emergency response systems, seniors now have the resources they need to remain at home longer without compromising care.
The report also shows strong growth in continuing care retirement communities. As housing values continue to rise, seniors now have more opportunities to raise funds and pay for more expensive options to improve their quality of care. Due to changing perspectives, seniors are expected to move toward more independent living options rather than skilled nursing care at a fixed location. As a result, adult day care, respite care, group support services, and companion services will also see increasing demand.
Because of the boom in Dallas’ senior population, physicians, hospitals, and healthcare businesses must work together to meet the challenges before they become insurmountable. With proper planning, utilization of technological advances, a firm understanding of the desire of seniors to stay at home longer, and attention to legislative changes in the future, Dallas and its residents can lay the foundation for a strong and robust healthcare system to give seniors the care they need and deserve.
Angela Norris is senior vice president for StoneGate Senior Living LLC, an award-winning full-spectrum senior care and housing company. She has deep experience in nursing, payments and accountable care models, and previously served as Vice President of an accountable care organization for the aged, blind and disabled.