When I talk with my clients about long-term health care planning, we talk about having the right financial resources in place as well as considering all the options necessary to care adequately for the patient – whether that’s you, your spouse, a disabled adult child, or your parents.
But in Indiana, those choices are not as wide ranging as you might want. An AARP Public Policy Institute report issued in September 2011 found that our state ranks a dismal 47th out of 50 for long-term services and supports for older adults and the disabled. The report ranked states on 4 criteria: (1) affordability and access; (2) choice of setting and provider; (3) quality of life and quality of care; and (4) support for family caregivers. It is designed to help states improve the performance of their LTSS systems.
In 2012 the Indiana General Assembly will consider a bill to help people better understand all the options available to them for long-term care. The proposed legislation will require hospitals to provide lists and contact info for long-term care choices including alternatives to nursing homes. In this way, when patients are discharged, caretakers will better understand their options. This is important because the costs associated with nursing homes and in-home health care is dramatically different. An AARP analysis posted the average annual cost of care in an Indiana nursing home is $75,600, whereas 30 hours of home health care per week costs about $29,640 per year. That’s a huge difference!
An AARP Indiana survey found that 83% say they prefer to age at home rather than in an institution. For years, AARP, and local groups have advocated shifting Medicaid long-term care funds away from nursing homes and into home-and community-based services, for this very reason – as well as for the cost savings.
Making decisions about long-term and end-of-life care may be among the hardest choices you will ever make. Having all the options at hand, and understood with the help of this bill and an elder care attorney, will help make those decisions a little easier.