In the News: February 2-8
Sg2 is dedicated to helping our clients interpret the latest news and trends in health care. Below you’ll find our analysis of this week’s key industry headlines, along with links to related Sg2 resources.
NBER Study Finds Lower Health Care Spending in Medicare Advantage
On the heels of a recent Health Affairs study that noted lower-intensity care and better outcomes for Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees vs traditional Medicare patients, a new National Bureau of Economic Research study found that health care spending (ie, inpatient, outpatient and skilled nursing facility) in 2010 was 24.9% lower for MA enrollees. The study used CMS data sources and third-party claims data aggregated from Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. Notably, the authors found that “spending differences primarily reflect differences in health care utilization,” rather than differences in payments per admission or spending per encounter.
Sg2 experts have monitored MA closely, as one-third of Medicare beneficiaries are now covered by a MA plan. Watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar: Medicare Advantage: Strategies for Success to learn more about recent MA trends and strategies for shifting from the fee-for-service world.
Beyond Sg2: STAT News: Colleges Can’t Meet Soaring Needs for Mental Health Care
A recent STAT News study found that US universities are unable to provide timely care to meet the rising demand for mental health services. The study noted that some students wait up to 2–3 weeks to see a counselor, leaving multiple suicide attempts ignored every semester. Some universities are working to expand staff and stress management programs, but others are hesitant to make the case for additional resources.
Mental health conditions are ubiquitous and pervasive across the country, affecting 1 in 4 Americans each year. Read the Sg2 Expert Insight: A First Step in Your Behavioral Health Strategy: Assessing the Gaps to understand actionable, near-term solutions for mental health integration.
Health Affairs Finds Cost-Saving Potential of Hospice Varies by Region
A new study from Health Affairs discovered that the savings generated with hospice use are moderated by regional spending patterns. Savings were most significant in states with high end-of-life care expenditures. In low-expenditure regions, greater hospice enrollment was not associated with decreased end-of-life expenditures.
End-of-life care represents a disproportionately high percentage of overall health care spend. Medicare beneficiaries in the last year of their lives constitute just 5% of all enrollees, but account for over 25% of total Medicare annual spending. For best practices and strategic considerations for palliative care and hospice programs, read the Sg2 FAQ Developing Palliative Care and Hospice Programs.