Of all the ways to cut healthcare spending, so-called “super-users” provide one of the biggest targets.
Super-users typically visit the hospital at least five times a year — usually in emergency rooms. Because they are usually uninsured, or on Medicare or Medicaid, the cost to treat these chronically ill patients is particularly high. In fact, super-users comprise just 5 percent of all patients, but account for nearly half of the country’s healthcare spending.
But a handful of states are now implementing programs to address the cost of super-users with holistic and preventative care — and the results have been dramatic.
Here’s a look at how states are working to keep super-users healthy and out of the hospital.
Less than $20,000 = The yearly salary for most “super-user” patients enrolled in a holistic healthcare program called One Care in Massachusetts.
$10,000 = The cost of a typical hospital stay, according to a 2012 federal study.
71 = Hours of weekly aide support patients receive in the One Care program. Patients also receive massages twice a week, psychiatric care twice a month, a wheelchair support group, and access to a nurse practitioner who oversees their care.
20 percent = The drop in hospital admissions for patients in the One Care program after 18 months.
8.6 percent = The drop — after a few years — in the number of super-users in Pennsylvania after the state launched a program to help the patients. In 2012, about 24,045 people were defined as super-users in the state — last year that rate dropped to 21,968.
$1,000 a day = The amount a program in Chicago is paying to provide temporary housing to homeless patients — which is still less than the average $3,000 a day cost to keep the patient in the hospital. One hospital has committed $250,000 to house 27 homeless patients.
0 = Practice care coordinators who have quit after four years of working for a holistic program called Coordinated Care at Stanford University aimed at lowering hospital admission rates. The low-turnover defies healthcare’s general trend of high burnout. According to the program’s CEO, the medical assistants don’t treat patients but instead give them everyday care that helps keep them out of the hospital, which is a rewarding goal for all.