Demand Versus Supply: Home Health Care Services
It is not a secret the health care industry in the United States is highly competitive, that demand for medical services and products grows faster every year, and that supply in certain areas is shortening. The demand for health care products and services is the result of the society’s desire of living longer and maintaining a better health status. In the present, patients are very interested in learn about the new alternatives the market offers to improve their wellbeing and suppliers are more alert of the population’s wants and needs. Additionally, the multiple advances in technology have created a whole new scenario for delivering health care increasing the demand and supply of technologic advanced goods (products and services). Population’s requirements for better services in terms of quality and effectiveness are also crucial determinants of the trends in the demand and supply of certain health care goods. A service that has become highly demanded not only for the reasons aforementioned but also because the increasing of the aging population and the government needs of cutting health care expenditures, is the home health care. As its name indicates it is an array of services that patients receive in their home as part of an illness, chronic condition or injury treatment. Services include -but not limited to- medical care such as physical and occupational therapy, nursing care, pharmaceutical services (medication/infusion therapy administration), and speech therapy. It also includes transportation, housekeeping, and care from home health aides (Elkin, 2012).
The home health care market is mostly driven by the rapid growing of the aging population in the country, specifically by the Baby Boomers, who according to Fisher (2012), constitute about 70% of the patients who receive health services at home. Baby boomers are the approximately 77 million of babies born in the United States between 1946 and 1964. Boomers started to retire in 2011, generating a sky-high demand of health goods along with many products and services from other industries. Is estimated that by 2030, there will be more than 70 million of people in the nation over 65 (American Hospital Association, 2007). Along with other specifics, boomers are characterized for their independency (many of them live alone or as a couple), they are technology users, and tend to be more conscious about their health status. However, as a result of the boomers aging, chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and co-morbidities will increment considerably, opening the market for providing health care at the patient’s home. Elkin (2012) states that “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts home care will grow by more than 42 percent in the next five years, as the number of Americans age 65+ escalates” (para. 2). Even though baby boomers appear as the main users of home health care, the different options that health care services at home offer and the technological advances that allow remote monitoring, and self service make many people opt for this alternative. Independently of the age, the advantages of staying around their loved ones as they recover from an injury or treat a chronic condition, is making the demand for home health care growing around the U.S. population. Moreover, the financial impact on the consumer and institutional expenditures play an important role at the moment of choosing home health care versus hospital inpatient care. Demand versus Cost, Access, and Supply
Demand versus Cost
As mentioned before, a considerable reason for the rising on the demand curve of home health care services is the government need of cutting health care expenditures. The costs of home health care services are considerably less expensive than hospital services. Between 2005 and 2009 Medicare charges for home health increased only $10 per day...
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