Skilled Nursing Occupancy Hits Five-Year Low, According to NIC Data

by Jeff Shaw

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Occupancy for skilled nursing facilities throughout the United States hit a five year low in the third quarter of 2017, falling to 81.6 percent, according to data released today by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).

NIC is a nonprofit data analytics organization exclusively serving the seniors housing sector. NIC collects the data using a sample population collected each month from more than 1,400 skilled nursing properties throughout the country.

The occupancy numbers mark a 29 basis point decrease from the previous quarter and 167 basis point decrease from the same time last year.

“Historically, there has been some variability in the occupancy trend in the third quarter in any given year, so it is difficult to gauge the impact of seasonality,” says Bill Kauffman, senior principal at NIC. “Occupancy did set a new low within this time series in the third quarter as pressure continues on the Medicare mix. However, it did decline at a slower pace from the prior quarter.”

Medicare patient day mix declined 58 basis points from the second quarter and 84 basis points from year-earlier levels, coming in at a new low of 12.2 percent in the third quarter of 2017. The average Medicare patient day mix for the 12-month period ending in September 2017 was 13 percent, compared to 14 percent from September 2015 to September 2016, and 15 percent in the 12-month period from September 2014 to September 2015.

“While Medicare patient day mix fell to its lowest level of the time series in the third quarter of 2017, Medicaid patient day mix continued to make up a larger share of occupancy, reaching its highest point within the last five years at 66.8 percent,” says Beth Burnham Mace, chief economist for NIC.

“Not only is it important to see how the patient mix is changing over time, but we really need to see how the revenue mix is changing in conjunction with patient days, which is why NIC will be expanding this data set to include revenue mix next year,” continues Mace.

Managed Medicare revenue per patient day declined from the prior quarter to set a new low within the time series at $431. This represents a total decline of 13.2 percent from five years ago. The rate fell 1.8 percent versus the previous quarter, which was a significant deterioration from the prior quarterly decline of only 0.2 percent.

To view the full report, click here.

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