Access to Home Health Differs Based on Geographic Location

Members | April 20, 2017 | by Peter Notarstefano

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found  the availability of home health care increased, but accessibility varies significantly, depending on patients’ geographic location.

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found the number of ZIP codes without home health care declined from 2002 through 2015, the availability of home health care increased. Although, home health care accessibility varies significantly, depending on patients’ geographic location.

The study noted the following:

  • The West, North East, and South Atlantic regions had lower home health care availability than the Central regions
  • Counties with higher median income, a larger senior population, higher rates of households without a car and low access to stores, more obesity, greater inactivity, and higher proportions of non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic populations were more likely to have higher availability of home health care.

These results are significant because the MedPAC Commission continues to report to Congress that access to home health care is generally adequate. They often cite that over 99 percent of beneficiaries live in a ZIP code where a Medicare home health agency operates, and 97 percent live in a ZIP code with two or more agencies. It is important to recognize that Medicare beneficiaries in rural, frontier and many medically underserved low-income areas of the country are not given the opportunity to access home health.