Physical therapist helping senior woman doing exercise at home

Home health users just eclipse skilled nursing facility users when it comes to fewer 30-day hospital readmissions. And the typical home health user is white, sick and poor. These statistics are according to the recently released 2021 AHHQI Home Health Chartbook.

The Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation and National Association for Home Care & Hospice unveiled their annual report on Wednesday. The report provides a broad overview of home health patients, the home health workforce, organizational trends and the economic contribution of home health agencies. 

Chart depicting 30-day admission rates for common MS-DRGs
This chart compares the percentage of home health users versus skilled nursing facility users readmitted within 30 days for 20 MS-DRGs.

Among the findings of the report, home health slightly bests SNFs, on average, when it comes to 30-day hospital readmissions. Some 17.3% of home health users are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days for the top 20 most common MS-DRGs. That compares to 17.97% of SNF users. The MS-DRGs include renal failure, heart failure, and kidney and urinary tract infection. 

Typical home health user 

The report also delves into the demographic profile of a home health user. Some 43.3% of home health users are white. That compares with just 21.6% of all Medicare beneficiaries. Also, a whopping 82.3% of Medicare home health users have three or more chronic conditions. That compares with just 59.5% of all Medicare beneficiaries. And 57.8% have incomes at or under 200% of the federal poverty level. That compares with 42.7% of all Medicare beneficiaries. 

Two pie graphs showing demographics of home health users
Home health users appear to be sicker than the general Medicare population.

The health and financial aspect of this profile has not changed much in recent years, according to the report. In 2012, 85.9% of Medicare home health users had three or more chronic conditions. And in 2012, 67.9% had federal incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level. 

Fewer HHAs

Among other noteworthy findings, the report confirms that the number of Medicare-certified free-standing home health agencies continues to steadily decrease. In 2019, there were 9,864 agencies. In 2015, there were 10,554.