The State of Long-Term Care in the U.S. and Michigan

2017 Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard: Rating Check Excellent

Every day in the United States, 10,000 people turn 65. As the Baby Boomers enter their retirement years, that number will grow. What's more, an increasing segment of the population is living into their eighties. Sooner or later, many of those people are going to need the services of a long-term care facility. What does that care look like these days? The answer lies in part within the 2017 Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard. This scorecard is the result of collaboration between the AARPThe Commonwealth Fund, and The SCAN Foundation. The goal of the 2017 Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard is to offer a current evaluation of all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia with respect to the performance of long-term care systems in those states.

Performance was measured on five criteria:

  • Affordability and access to care
  • Choice of setting and provider
  • Quality of life and quality of care
  • Support for family caregivers
  • Effective transitions between care settings.

Overall, the news since the last scorecard was issued in 2014 is positive, though perhaps not as positive as one might hope. Nationwide, improvements were seen in the areas of providing assistance to family caregivers, reduction of long-term stays in nursing homes, and increasing the number of Medicaid patients who were able to be cared for in a home or community setting rather than in an institution. Also noted was a reduction in unnecessary use of antipsychotic drugs for residents of long-term care facilities and an improvement in person- and family-centered care.

Unfortunately, while most states showed improvement on at least one indicator in four out of the five categories of assessment, most states did not show significant change in the area of affordability of access. The cost of care remains out of reach for many families..

How Michigan Fares in Providing Long Term Care

While Michigan is far from the worst state on the list, the reality is that the combination of the aging population with the slow pace of overall improvement means that there is still significant work to do in making sure residents receive affordable, quality care.

Michigan, tied for 22nd place with Virginia on the scorecard, is near the middle of the pack overall in the 2017 Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard, but with a spotty performance on the five primary indicators of performance. The state ranks in the third quartile for affordability and access, quality of life and quality of care, and support for family caregivers. Performance ranks in the second quartile for choice of setting and provider. And Michigan is among the top 25% of states with respect to effective transitions between settings.

While Michigan is far from the worst state on the list, the reality is that the combination of the aging population with the slow pace of overall improvement means that there is still significant work to do in making sure Michigan residents receive the care they need at a cost they can afford.

How Michigan Residents Can Prepare for the Possibility of Long-Term Care

It's difficult to know whether you will need long-term care at some point in the distant future, but all Michigan residents would be well-advised to prepare for the possibility. While there's little you can do to affect the overall care options available to Michigan residents, you can, and should, make sure that you're in a position to access the best care available to you.

In other words, until quality care is affordable and accessible to everyone, Michiganders need to take steps to make sure that their hard-earned dollars will buy them as much care as possible. The best way to do this is to work with an experienced elder law attorney to learn how to protect your assets and plan for the possibility of long-term care. The more you are willing to consider these issues while the need for care is off in the hazy future, the better your quality of life is likely to be when that future arrives.

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