What does Medicare or home health services mean to you? Is it even relevant?
I’ll tell you why we should care. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but you will eventually grow older and hospital visits will become more frequent. Eventually we will be enrolling in Medicare programs or experiencing at first-hand, various healthcare options for our parents and grandparents. Looking at long-term healthcare plans is as relevant to us today as it will be to us later in life. There is also the fact that you’ve already experienced a new additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on individual wages, which may potentially heighten your interest.
Home health services originated at the start of the 20th century. They were created to alleviate the burdens of health and social needs for neglected patients. One of the main incentives of home health care is that it reduces overall healthcare costs while providing quality care. As the name suggests, home health services provide care at home which allows for the patients to be “more physically and emotionally comfortable and may talk more easily about potentially disturbing subjects (Boling, 2013).”
Earlier this week, I attended a briefing that further discussed the policy implications of new qualitative research on home health. The Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation and the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine hosted an event on Capitol Hill titled “Optimizing Home Health Care: Enhanced Value and Improved Outcomes.” The impressive range of panelists discussed how home health could assist patients in managing chronic conditions and reduce the possibility of hospital readmissions.
The panelists cohesively arrived at the same conclusion that there is a need for better patient care and to utilize home health services to prevent hospital readmissions.
Ideally, shifting to a palliative care plan would better benefit older patients with chronic illnesses. As Dr. Michael Fleming and Tara Haney state in their Improving patient outcomes with better care transitions: The role for home health, “In 1965, average life expectancy for Americans was 70 years; by 2020, that average is predicted to be nearly 80 years….The 1965 health care system focused on treating acute disease, but the health care system of the 21st century must effectively manage chronic disease.”
As the American population ages, there needs to be an alternative health care plan that can better provide health services not just to the patient but also to family members. Physicians should be able to connect with their patients on a personal level so that they are more likely to trust their providers. As a result, the physicians will benefit from patient’s trust.
From a financial perspective, an analysis conducted by Dobson DaVanzo, a health care consulting firm, estimates that potential Medicare savings of $100 billion is possible if cost-effective placements were constructed with a policy that also implemented a reduction in post-acute care spending by 7.5%. Therefore, utilizing home health services to reduce hospital readmissions could potentially reduce future healthcare spending.
Even though home health services have been around since the 20th century, it is crucial that we explore expanding this option for the future aging population. As the population continues to age, providing for the growing number of elderly people will be a challenge in the future. Therefore, start now and look to healthcare services, such as home health care, to better provide for the inevitably aging population.