A Look Inside the Home Care Industry

The home care industry includes home health care agencies and providers, companion care firms, visiting nurse associations (VNA) and in-home hospice care services. They provide at-home services, such as skilled nurses, personal care, homemaking, companionship, physical therapy, social services, medical equipment supplies, counseling, occupational and vocational therapy, dietary and nutritional services, speech therapy, and other related services. There are currently 2.2 million home care employees working for these agencies and providers across the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, offering the medical care support and personal assistance older adults need, in the comfort of their homes.

During the last ten years, the home care workforce has doubled in size and has seen a shift from providing services in a nursing home setting to caring for a growing adult population who want to age in place at home. This trend will indeed continue as we see the population of those age 65 and over double by 2050 – from 47.8 million to 88 million, cites a report, “U.S. Home Care Workers: Key Facts,” by PHI, a leading authority on the direct care workforce.

The report goes in-depth to put the spotlight on the typical profile of a home care worker, the type of jobs they carry out and the challenges they face. Here are some key highlights from the PHI report:

  • Most home care workers are women (89%), with a median age of 45.
  • One quarter of workers were born outside the United States, with 90% U.S. citizens.
  • More than 50% have not completed a formal education beyond high school. Because educational and training requirements vary by state for the home care industry, it is accessible to a broader base of individuals.
  • Home care work typically involves providing assistance to patients with activities of daily living (ADL), including eating, dressing, bathing, housekeeping chores and medical management. Personal care aides also provide social support by helping older adults stay active in the community. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) perform some clinical tasks under the supervision of a licensed professional.
  • Personal care aides providing non-medical assistance accounted for 64% of total employment growth in the home care industry from 2005 to 2015.
  • Of the home health care industry’s $71 billion in annual revenue in 2015 72% was paid primarily by Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Although the industry is growing, there are several challenges to overcome: For companion care workers (para-professionals), wages have not kept up with inflation, and two-thirds of home care employees work part-time or for part of the year. Due to these low wages and inconsistent hours, the median annual income for home care work is $13,300 Additionally, the uninsured rate for home care workers is 26%, although with the Affordable Care Act, the number of workers who received health coverage rose by 14% between 2010 and 2014 through Medicaid expansion, employer-sponsored plans and individual plans.

It’s estimated that 633,100 home care jobs will be added between 2014 and 2024. Personal care aides will make up 328,000 of these jobs, home health aides 254,700, and nursing assistants 50,400. Although this is good news in terms of future job opportunities, expectations are that there will be a gap in the labor force due to fewer older women entering the workforce in the years to come (who today make up the majority of the home care workers), and difficulty in being able to fulfill these jobs. To fill this gap and attract a wider pool of talent, it’s important to make home care jobs more competitive, with higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions, cites the PHI report.

About Manchester Specialty

Manchester Specialty provides end-to-end insurance solutions to home health care providers. Our programs include General Liability, Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Management Liability, Cyber Liability and Non-Owned & Hired Auto insurance, among other key coverages. For more information about our business and insurance lines, you or your local agent/broker may contact us at 855.972.9399.