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Study: House calls for frail elders bring savings

WASHINGTON (AP) — House calls may sound like a luxury. But a new study finds that bringing team-based primary care into the homes of frail, hard-to-treat seniors saves Medicare money — by keeping them from needing pricier hospital or specialist care. The study comes from a house call program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in the nation's capital. Researchers compared Medicare claims of 722 house-call patients with 2,161 similarly ill patients who never received home medical care. Over two years, total Medicare costs were 17 percent lower for the house-call patients. That's an average savings of about $4,200 per person per year. A large Medicare project is underway with 17 house-call programs around the country to test if the approach really improves care while saving money.

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