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House Calls: California Program for Homebound Patients Reduces Monthly Spending, Delivers Meaningful Care

Glenn Melnick, Lois Green, and Jeremy Rich

Research in Health Affairs finds that Medicare patients enrolled in house-calls programs had fewer emergency visits, spent less time as inpatients, and saved money.

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As the population of seniors swells in the United States, the pool of high-risk older Medicare beneficiaries who will require assistance in managing their care and accessing services outside of their homes will grow with it.

In a report prepared for Health Affairs with support from CHCF, researchers from the University of Southern California and the HealthCare Partners Institute for Applied Research and Education studied an established in-home medical and wellness care program that serves a predominantly elderly, homebound population. The findings show cost savings as the program evolved and matured, even when taking into account operational differences across regions and potential higher costs as longer-stay patients aged into the program.

The data show that enrolled patients saw reduced use of emergency care, inpatient services, and overall health care spending. The findings suggest that a house-calls program can help achieve more appropriate use of health care services. It is likely that further research will reveal net savings that can be used to finance similar programs without adding to overall costs.

The complete article is available free of charge on the Health Affairs site.

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