Using home health care services in appropriate circumstances can be highly effective in improving care while reducing costs, according to a recent study by the American Action Forum that examined a home-based care program offered by the Veterans Administration.
The VA Home Based Primary Care Program is designed to better manage care for veterans living with multiple chronic disease conditions. Each year, it serves 12,000 ill veterans who receive comprehensive treatment services in a home setting. Getting these services at home has helped prevent additional complications related to existing diagnoses that could result in expensive treatments if left untreated, according to the American Action Forum’s study analysis.
For those veterans participating in the program, days spent in the hospital declined by 62%, while nursing home days dropped 88% compared to those not enrolled in the program in 2002. This adds up to a 24% reduction in health care costs.
Additionally, a 2007 study showed a 69% reduction in hospital inpatient days of care—directly related to veterans’ ability to receive care services in their homes.
The home-based care program has been cited as a model for the Medicare program, according to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, and has fewer restrictions than Medicare. For example, it doesn’t require patients to be “homebound” in order to receive home health care services, and it gives participants access to comprehensive chronic care management services. It’s also structured to provide extended care in order to help patients avoid returning to hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutional settings.
“Because patients with complex chronic conditions served by Medicare as well as those dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare have similar care needs to the VA’s HBPC enrollees, it raises the possibility that the use of an HBPC-modeled program could similarly reduce hospital and nursing home stays within entitlement programs,” says the study analysis.
View the America Action Forum’s analysis of the program.
Written by Alyssa Gerace