Preventable Hospitalizations Down Among American Seniors

According to a new report by the United Health Foundation on the state of seniors’ health, preventable hospitalizations have dropped. The third edition of its annual America’s Health Rankings Senior Report show “encouraging news for senior health nationally,” but also indicates the setbacks seniors have faced compared to previous years.

Among the major gains is a 6.8 percent reduction in preventable hospitalizations, a measure that’s also dropped 11 percent since 2013. Reasons for the reduced hospital admissions and readmissions include the push for better population health management and the shift from fee-for-service model to value-based payments.

The report also found a 9.3 percent increase in the number of home health workers year over year, and a 38 percent increase in seniors who choose hospice care at the end of their lives. These findings are supported by a recent report that indicated nursing homes may replace hospitals as the major providers of senior care – a trend that is fueled by the increased interest in palliative care.

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Study: American Seniors With Medicare Coverage Face Health Gaps

According to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund, American seniors often have difficulty affording their healthcare despite receiving Medicare benefits. Beneficiaries with traditional Medicare end up spending more than $4,000 on average per year on out-of-pocket health costs, according to the report.

A Kaiser Health News report on the study also found that:

  • 87 percent of U.S. respondents 65 or older indicated having one chronic condition and 68 percent had two or more.
  • 19 percent of U.S. respondents reported costs as an obstacle in getting care last year.
  • 55 percent said it was “somewhat or very easy” to get care after hours.

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More Seniors Living In Poverty

An alternative census estimate shows more of America’s seniors, 1 in 7, are living in poverty. The estimate, which takes into account health spending and regional cost of living, could increase under some proposals to reform Medicare. Analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation released earlier this week breaks this poverty data down for seniors by state.

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Medicare Launches Pilot Project Relaxing Hospital Payment Rules

Last week, HMS reported Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) presented legislation to help patients preserve their life savings while receiving long term care. Now, Medicare has launched a pilot project to test whether relaxing its hospital payment rules could help beneficiaries.

A growing number of seniors have been forced to tap into their savings while receiving long term care after a hospital stay because they are classified as observation patients. Under Medicare rules, patients must have at least three days in the hospital as an inpatient to qualify for nursing home care upon discharge.

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