For years, health care cost increases have been outpacing the general economy. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report shows that during the past decade, healthcare prices have grown nearly 22%, while prices in the general economy have grown 17%.
Households are looking for ways to reduce their costs for general practice alone, which are extreme but don’t compare to health costs when they are affected by a critical illness. On a per capita basis, health spending has increased more than 30-fold in the last four decades, from $355 per person in 1970 to $10,739 in 2017. With inflation considered, the increase was nearly six times.
So, how are households managing these expenses, and what role does housing play? The 2019 BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt concept home is a learning tool for how housing can be designed to have a positive impact on health and well-being.
Through the home’s design, KB Home and partner KTGY Architecture + Planning integrated technology and other features that offer ways for the residents to be proactive and reactive to health concerns. One of those technology features is the DARWIN™ Home Wellness Intelligence platform from Delos that monitors, calibrates and activates indoor home environments to respond to and to help improve human health, well-being and performance.
DARWIN sensors were located in 11 areas of the home to monitor and then calibrate air filtration, water purification, circadian lighting and comfort features. The system also controls room comfort, and around bedtime in the master suite will drop the room temperature by four degrees to provide the ideal sleeping environment, plus drop the shades to block out all light, and turn the lights off. In the morning, the system gradually warms up the room, lifts the shades, and times the lights to come on slowly to bring you out of sleep in a natural way.
DARWIN also tracks indoor air quality score, that is dynamically calculated based on air samplings from the sensors throughout the home. The house also has the QuFRESH by Air King that works with Carrier HVAC as a mechanical fresh air solution that helps with humidity and temperature, introducing constant fresh air from outside into the residence that meets fresh-air-cubic-feet-per-minute requirements.
Outside the home, there is a Cal Spa Fitness Swim Spa, which is a heated spa for endless swimming workouts, another contribution to helping the home owner be proactive with their health and well-being.
Finally, there are two garden walls, giving homeowners access to fresh herbs and vegetables, another thoughtful element of the healthy home design. The home is also part of a future community plan that would include a community garden, offering chances for social connections and more access to fresh food. A new report from the FMI Foundation called The Power of Health and Well-Being in Food Retail, that shares that two-thirds of people believe fresh produce is integral to a balanced diet.
All of these solutions contribute to lowering health care costs and are discussed in more detail in this white paper produced for the ProjeKt.
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, a health economist for THINK-Health and blogger for Health Populi, toured the project and shared her thoughts in this short video on how the home is a low cost place to address rising health care expenses.
As Sarasohn-Kahn says, more people will be receiving care in their homes. An article on 2018 health care trends in Home Health Care News sees the trend increasing with home care that not only addresses current needs but that prevent hospitalizations. There has been a spike in private duty healthcare programs from hospitals and health systems that also help discharged patients so they aren’t readmitted.
The article also points out that Congress is exploring ways to make telehealth more accessible, with legislation such as the 21st Century Cures Act.
The opportunities for better health at home are vast. As consumers begin to understand and embrace them, house designs will be able to adapt, setting a new precedent for housing to offer home buyers.
Learn more about the BUILDER KB Home ProjeKt at www.builderonline.com/kbhomeprojekt and register to take a tour in Vegas.