An Economic Analysis of Life Care
Jonathan S. Feinstein, Edward G. Keating
NBER Working Paper No. 4155
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.