More Data Shows Home Health Admissions Stabilizing, But Short of Pre-Pandemic Heights

Though home health admissions have begun to stabilize, providers are still seeing admissions that are lower than pre-pandemic levels.

That’s according to the 2021 post-acute care industry trends report from Atlanta-based analytics and metrics firm Trella Health. The report examines a number of topics including Medicare Advantage enrollment and home health admissions, as well as utilization. 

Overall, health admissions decreased by 4.7% over the last six quarters. For Q2 2021, home health admissions checked in at 846,100, compared to 749,900 in Q2 2020 and 928,100 in Q2 2019.


As many home health providers have recently pointed out, the demand for care services remains high, but the problem is the challenges they’re experiencing around staffing.

“The demand for home health care services currently appears to outstrip the supply, indicating a need for investment in acquiring and retaining caregivers,” Trella Health wrote in the report. “To this end, financing from private investment firms and additional funding from the Public Relief Fund could be beneficial, as they could assist in resolving staffing problems.”

Home health utilization — or the number of patients discharged from an in-patient stay and admitted to home health — was also below pre-pandemic levels. While the utilization increased from Q2 2020 by 0.3%, it has decreased by about 1.7% compared to Q2 2019.


“A decrease in home health utilization is a worrying signal of potential lapses in care,” the organization wrote in the report. “One solution could be closer partnerships with facilities to ensure proper transition from inpatient to home health services.”

Home health providers must engage MA plans

Within its trends report, Trella also featured data on Medicare Advantage (MA) penetration.

In total, MA enrollment increased by 65.1% between December 2016 and February 2022. Between December 2016 and 2021, MA enrollment grew at an average of 9.7% annually.

On a geographical level, MA penetration varies across states. Specifically, more than 53% of beneficiaries eligible for Medicare in Alabama, Michigan and Florida are enrolled in an MA plan, compared to less than 10% for Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota.

With this in mind, the report suggests that providers should use MA state penetration data to navigate how to approach working with MA plans.

MA plans will likely cover over 50% of Medicare-eligible beneficiaries in the U.S. by 2025.

One major takeaway from these findings is that post-acute providers will need to adapt to the changing Medicare landscape.

“Post-acute care agencies represent an essential component of the continuum of health care, and must market themselves as much to Medicare Advantage plans as possible in order to thrive in the changing healthcare economy,” the organization wrote in the report.

Home health providers, in particular, will need to form partnerships with MA plans in order to lean into business opportunities.

“MA enrollment increases, especially in rural areas, necessitates home health investment in contract negotiation and acquisition with MA plans,” the organization wrote in the report. “To effectively gain market share and attract admissions covered by MA plans, home health agencies must utilize data on MA penetration and plan size to effectively strategize in their market.”

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