An Economic Analysis of Life Care

Jonathan S. Feinstein, Edward G. Keating

NBER Working Paper No. 4155
Issued in September 1992
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

Life care communities offer long term care to the elderly in the context of a residential community. Residents move into a life care community while still relatively young (though typically past age 65), initially occupying an independent living unit situated in a living complex similar to a retirement community. Later, when a resident requires more intensive care, she moves to an on-site nursing facility. We present an economic analysis of the life care industry. Our model includes a detailed specification of elderly couples' utility, a description of elderly morbidity and mortality experiences, and a formulation of the life care contract. Using extensive computer simulations we show that life care offers two main advantages to elderly as compared with stand-alone nursing homes: (i) reduced mobility costs and nearness to spouse and friends when sick; and (ii) insurance, linked to a rebate paid to the couple's heirs. We also investigate regulation of life care and the effects stemming from the risk of operator bankruptcy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w4155

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