Expect Constant Change

As we witness the market forces and technological change in the world of healthcare for our elderly parents, we are seeing some trends emerging which are worth noting. Over the coming weeks, I will attempt to provide greater detail on some/all of the topics cited below.

Trending Topics in 2013

– Medicare has begun penalizing U.S. hospitals for having too many counts of patient re-admissions. Unacceptable numbers of re-admissions will be penalized by reducing the reimbursements paid by Medicare back to hospitals for their services. Some hospitals are looking to partner more closely with home health care as a solution to the readmission problem. Other hospitals are skirting the issue by accepting patients under “observation”, which delays the clock on a formal admission.

– In fiscal year 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, won or negotiated over $3 billion in health care fraud judgments and settlements.

– Much research is now showing that there is little or no consistent correlation between higher prices and better quality in U.S. health care. In other words, paying higher medical costs does not necessarily bring you higher/better quality care.

– On a nationwide comparison, it was found that the prices charged by hospitals for the same procedures varied significantly. There is no set price for many procedures. More specifically, the cost for a knee replacement may vary widely in hospitals across the country. It is all about profit.  Shouldn’t there be a more consistent cost of care?

– Healthcare industry is good for big business. The financial drivers of volume and demand for new products, medical research, construction has investors opening their wallets. This is not simply a regional economic boon. Growth is distributed in population centers and many cities across the U.S.

– Retirement communities and assisted living facilities can seem very much cookie cutter. It is difficult to distinguish benefits and services. One distinct benefit…those communities who are beginning to offer primary care medical services directly in resident’s rooms.

-Social media is becoming more recognized and utilized to provide information and enhance patient communication. Hospitals and medical facilities are becoming more sophisticated in disseminating information and addressing customer/patient concerns. Social media allows them to participate in relevant patient discussions.

Disconnect: Long term care insurance provides a type of policy that helps seniors and consumers pay for nursing-home bills and other costly expenses. But many insurance companies are cutting back or eliminating their product offerings in sales of long-term-care insurance. Their reasoning… long term care is one of the toughest business lines for turning a profit amid ultralow interest rates. And policyholders are living longer and generating more in claims than initially projected. Yet Massachusetts statistics give a 70% chance of elders needing their insurance coverage for over 90-days at some point in their lives.

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– John D. Miller is the owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, in-home assistance, personalized and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at:  www.homecarepartnersma.com

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