Some of the senior citizens who called Arizona insurance agent Denise Early wondered why their Medicare Advantage health plans were eager to send a doctor to visit them at home.
A few worried that the offer might be a scam. After all, they asked, how many doctors make house calls these days?
More than people might think. Home visits have risen sharply at many private Medicare health plans, which treat close to 16 million elderly and disabled people under contracts with the federal government.
The health plans tout the voluntary, free annual physicals as a major new benefit that can help selected members stay fit and in their homes as long as possible. While the doctors and nurses don’t offer any treatment during their visit, they report their exam findings to the patient’s primary care physician.
Yet there’s more to this spurt in home visits than the appearance of enhanced elder care. The house calls can be money makers for health plans when they help document medical problems — from complications of diabetes to a history of heart trouble that’s flared up.
– The Center for Public Integrity