Home visits may by key to lowering Medicare costs among the elderly

August 29, 2014

Home visits from primary care physicians may significantly lower Medicare costs among elderly patients, according to a recent study.

Home visits from primary care physicians may significantly lower Medicare costs among elderly patients, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, analyzed 722 home-based primary care (HBPC) cases and compared it against a control group of 2,161 cases.

The authors found that the HBPC model saved an average of $8,477 per patients, and it reduced total Medicare costs by 17% over two years. The mortality rates were similar in each group.

READ: Why is Medicare spending slowing?

“Because this group of patients is the most expensive in the medical system, even fractional savings can make a significant dent in health care costs,” K. Eric De Jonge, MD, lead author of the study, said in a written statement. “This study confirms home-based medical care is an effective and lower-cost model of care for these high-risk elders.”

The authors emphasized the importance of team-based care within the HBPC model, including the use of multiple specialists, nurse practitioners, and social workers.

“The observed cost savings could make HBPC teams more financially viable if payers were to share savings, offer global budgeting to qualified providers, or simply pay more for HBPC for this ill sub-group of individuals,” the study concludes. “Such value-based payments could encourage scalability of this care model, promote the health and dignity of elders, and help stabilize Medicare’s financial future.”