A recent study cited in Senior Housing News, commissioned by the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation found that home health care is the most cost-effective post-acute setting for patients discharged from hospitals.
Community-based care, when appropriate, provides the support people need in the setting that most people refer. The dilemma is that what people need and want in the community is far greater than what the Medicare Home Health benefit covers. According to data from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice in 2008 (the most recent data available), persons receiving home care averaged 35 visits.
And therein lies the problem: home care services end. That leaves people with gaps in their community-based support. Gaps can lead to crises, and crises put people back on the roller coaster and often re-hospitalized.
Being cost-effective is essential in today’s increasingly complex and expensive health care industry, however silos of excellence like Medicare Home Health are not a solution by themselves. Each option such as skilled nursing care, transitional care, or home health, to name a few, provides particular advantages for different situations.
The real question we should be asking is not whether one particular provider type is cost-effective, but whether the person’s entire health experience in the second half of life is cost-effective.
Only when we look at total cost of care across the spectrum of settings and drive for the real outcomes like quality of life, well-being, social support (and lack of health crises and hospitalizations) will we begin to get the change we need to lower costs and, most importantly, to improve the experience in the second half of