In-Home Care Support Helps MA Plans Significantly Lower Costs, Study Suggests 

A new study of Medicare Advantage (MA) beneficiaries found that in-home companion care reduced care costs by close to 10%.

The study – conducted by a national actuarial firm and commissioned by the companion care company Papa – also found that in-home companion care boosted home health utilization among MA members, while reducing more costly care.

Specifically, Papa was able to reduce health care costs by 9% among MA beneficiaries on behalf of health plans.


“As Medicare Advantage organizations face rising health care costs, slimmer margins and mounting regulatory pressures, they need to to show value for every dollar spent,” Kelsey McNamara, head of research and impact at Papa, told Home Health Care News in an email. “And with CMS’ ramp up of supplemental benefit scrutiny and data collection, there’s heightened interest in solutions that reduce costs, improve utilization and help members seek and remain in lower-acuity care settings for longer. Today’s results affirm Papa’s ability to do just this.”

Founded in 2017 and backed by a slew of investors, Papa is a social support and companion care company. It sends Papa Pals into seniors’ homes to mitigate loneliness and help with activities of daily living. It has contracts with a wide variety of MA plans across the country. 

The study was based on 2,386 MA members from a regional health plan that were enrolled in Papa between Jan. 2021 and Aug. 2023. The members used Papa for at least one visit.


Members also experienced a 18% reduction in inpatient hospital admissions and a 22% reduction in skilled nursing facility usage.

Furthermore, for members that used Papa’s services more than two times per month, there was a 19% reduction in medical costs. For those that had three or more visits per month, there was a 30% reduction in medical costs.

“These reductions are in addition to revenue plans experience from improved member experience and reduced member churn,” McNamara said. “One study of a Florida-based health plan, conducted by health economics research firm DataMed Solutions, found Papa participants had a churn rate that was 15.8% lower than members who did not participate in Papa.”

The results suggest that, even while health plans are cutting benefits, they should pause before cutting home-based care supports that help keep members healthy.

They also show that Papa’s in-home capabilities and support lead to more home health utilization, which can also reduce overall costs for a health plan. If a member is getting home health services he or she already needs, that reduces the risk of an admission to a costlier setting.

“Providing social support helps members access and utilize the home health services that are available to them though their health plan benefits,” McNamara said. “We also believe the positive experience of having a Papa Pal in the home can help members feel more open to accepting other types of health services in the home. … With high medical costs and health care use among MA members, plans recognize that supporting preventive services and in-home care, especially when available over in-patient or facilities-based care, can be an effective way to drive down costs.”

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