A special Medicare program aimed at keeping patients with chronic diseases out of the hospital may help lower health care costs by focusing on prevention of expensive complications. A study conducted by XLHealth and America’s Health Insurance Plans found that diabetic patients enrolled in a Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (SNP) had lower rates of hospitalization than patients enrolled in fee-for-service Medicare programs.
A large part of the Chronic Condition SNP is the HouseCalls program which sends nurse practitioners and physicians to patient’s homes. Although HouseCalls may seem expensive, researchers believe the cost will be offset by the reduction in hospital admissions. The research team states that, “preventive care performed as part of the HouseCalls program can include a complete health history and physical; a medication inventory; a social-needs review; foot exams; flu vaccinations; blood-pressure monitoring; urinalysis; depression and pain screening; and assessments of functional, cognitive, and fall-risk status.” Researchers believe that by adapting methods used by the Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may be able to improve care and outcomes for patients with chronic diseases.