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Reasons for the High Price of Home Care

Paul Osterman, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, recently wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal where he offers an explanation for the high price of home health care. With costs of around $20 per hour, understanding why home health care costs so much can hopefully help make it more affordable.

According to Osterman, one reason home health care is so expensive is state-level regulations and poor aide training. Home health aides are classified as “minimum wage people” so nurses are required to perform most medical tasks such as putting in eye drops. Increasing training options for aides and allowing them to complete more tasks could improve the quality of care and improve affordability.

Here is one possible benefit of such a change: “Take hospital readmissions. When elderly people leave the hospital after an acute incident, they often end up readmitted for another costly stay within 30 days. Or they’re sent not home, but instead to an expensive long-term care facility. Home-care aides can improve such transitions. A recent trial program at New York University Hospital found that when aides were trained to work with heart patients upon discharge, the patients were significantly better at maintaining their health.”

New York has also created a classification called “advanced aide” to recognize training in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Hopefully more training programs and less burdensome regulations can be developed at the state and national level. With 22 million Americans expected to need long-term care by 2030, we need solutions to increase the affordability and availability of all types of care.

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