Comparison of long-term care in nursing homes versus home health: Costs and outcomes in Alabama

Academic Article


  • Purpose of the Study: To compare acute care outcomes and costs among nursing home residents with community-dwelling home health recipients. Design and Methods: A matched retrospective cohort study of Alabamians aged more than or equal to 65 years admitted to a nursing home or home health between March 31, 2007 and December 31, 2008 (N = 1,291 pairs). Medicare claims were compared up to one year after admission into either setting. Death, emergency department and inpatient visits, inpatient length of stay, and acute care costs were compared using t tests. Medicaid long-term care costs were compared for a subset of matched beneficiaries. Results: After one year, 77.7% of home health beneficiaries were alive compared with 76.2% of nursing home beneficiaries (p < .001). Home health beneficiaries averaged 0.2 hospital visits and 0.1 emergency department visits more than nursing home beneficiaries, differences that were statistically significant. Overall acute care costs were not statistically different; home health beneficiaries' costs averaged $31,423, nursing home beneficiaries' $32,239 (p = .5032). Among 426 dualeligible pairs, Medicaid long-term care costs averaged $4,582 greater for nursing home residents (p < .001). Implications: Using data from Medicare claims, beneficiaries with similar functional status, medical diagnosis history, and demographics had similar acute care costs regardless of whether they were admitted to a nursing home or home health care. Additional research controlling for exogenous factors relating to long-term care decisions is needed.
  • Published In

  • Gerontologist  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 16988199
  • Author List

  • Blackburn J; Locher JL; Kilgore ML
  • Start Page

  • 215
  • End Page

  • 221
  • Volume

  • 56
  • Issue

  • 2