Big costs result when patient re-admission is required

Hospital Bed

Being re-admitted to a hospital could be bad for your overall health. CC by mateoutah/Flickr

Health care in America is exceedingly expensive, which means  any new programs that stem from health care reform have work cut out for them. Efficient practice of preventative medicine is important, yet it’s a category where America fails miserably. A 2009 study by the New England Journal of Medicine shows that 20 percent of Medicare patients are back in the hospital a mere 30 days after release. After 90 days, that percentage climbs to 34 percent. After a year, a frightening 67 percent are back – or dead.

Re-admission is taxing U.S. healthcare

According to the Huffington Post, the cost of Medicare was $17.4 billion in 2004. That gigantic figure forced Medicare to start monitoring hospitals in order to track the high re-admission rate problem. Top offenders were penalized financially. A new industry was born amidst the turmoil; private companies would extend their efficiency expert services to afflicted hospitals. Considering that several studies show that three-quarters of all re-admissions are preventable, it seems likely that the efficiency experts have plenty of business.

Hospitals and nursing homes won’t take ownership

Lack of proper communication seems to be the common ingredient when it comes to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities providing sub-par care that leads to re-admission. Not sharing the right info on patients and medication are among the communication issues at hand. The problem grows significantly for those Medicaid patients who are older and are shuttled between general and intensive care facilities.

Medicare and insurers sometimes lack foresight

The American Geriatric Society found in a recent study that Medicare and insurance companies prefer to recommend skilled nursing facilities over inpatient rehab for stroke victims, reports the Post. This is done due to lower costs up front, but the rebound rate at skilled nursing facilities in this scenario is seven times higher. The foresight to see beyond the lower price tag is a skill Medicare and private insurers must develop.

Make your doctor give you the details

Medical care facilities will usher patients out as quickly as possible unless patients and their loved ones force them to slow down and answer questions. Ask about the risks and be sure that future care instructions are quite clear. For more info on specific questions, see the Huffington Post article listed below.

Further reading:

Huffington Post:

Other recent posts by bryanh