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10 states that may be wasting nursing home beds

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Some people getting the most expensive, most budget-busting form of long-term care (LTC) don’t actually need that level of care.

See also: LTC costs: Don’t kid yourself

Analysts at UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) have included an indicator for that LTC cost and quality problem — a high percentage of nursing home occupants who seem as if they should be getting a lower level of care — in the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report.

The analysts gave state-by state data, from Brown University researchers, on the percentage of people in nursing homes who could get in and out of bed, get into a wheelchair, use the toilet and eat without assistance. The Brown researchers described these people as people who could handle four late-loss activities of daily living (ADLs) without physical assistance.

See also: Meal programs reduce nursing home use, researchers say

Some of those people might be suffering from dementia, and they might need protection against wandering, and professional caregivers trained to handle people with dementia. But the Brown researchers and UnitedHealth team analysts say that many of these people could likely live in some other setting with appropriate support.

The researchers estimated about 12 percent of people in nursing homes in 2010 were candidates for living in another cheaper, less restrictive setting.

See also: 5 cheapest states for adult day health care

Only about 1 percent of Maine nursing home bed residents and 5 percent of Hawaii nursing home residents appeared to be low-cost residents.

One challenge: Brown has not had funding to update the low-care nursing home resident figures since 2010. The UnitedHealth analysts had to use 5-year-old data.

To see the low-care resident percentages for the 10 states that came in at the bottom of the ranking for this indicator, read on. 

Mount Rushmore

10. South Dakota

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 17% 

See also: South Dakota gets a new insurance commissioner

Iowa flag

9. Iowa

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 17% 

See also: Iowa calls for LTCI alternate plan safeguards

Highway

8. Arkansas

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 17% 

See also: New Arkansas governor says state should keep Medicaid expansion

Boat in Newport, Rhode Island

7. Rhode Island

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 18% 

See also: These are the 10 least tax-friendly states for retirees

Image: Newport, Rhode Island (Getty Images/Albert Pego)

Kansas pasture

6. Kansas

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 18% 

See also: 10 PPACA exchanges with upmarket appeal

Wyoming buffalo

5. Wyoming

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 19% 

See also: 5 cheapest states for adult day health care

Missouri grain elevator

4. Missouri

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 21% 

See also: 10 best states for health insurance carrier jobs

New Orleans street sign

3. Louisiana

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 23% 

See also: 10 states where doctors love commercial plan patients

Oklahoma

2. Oklahoma

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 25% 

See also: 10 fattest states in America

Chicago, Illinois

1. Illinois

Percentage of nursing home residents classified as “low care”: 27% 

See also: Public LTC costs may threaten states’ credit ratings