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Nursing homes fade even as baby boomers age
Op/Ed: Stat

As the senior population grows, it’s easy to think that nursing homes will be popping up everywhere. In fact, the opposite is true. After booming for much of the late 20th century, the number of skilled nursing homes in the United States has flatlined at about 15,000 for more than a decade. By 2021, that figure could shrink by 20 percent.

That means more and more Americans will be forced to consider new ways to get the kind of care once found almost solely in nursing homes. Blame this on the new math of health care, the growth of alternatives to skilled care facilities, and rising lifespans.

Home care and assisted living facilities are becoming more popular, largely driven by how insurance reimbursement is changing. Medicare, a federal insurance program, and Medicaid, an assistance program run by state and local governments under federal guidelines, account for 90 percent of nursing home revenues; the rest comes from private long-term care insurance.

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