We get some interesting email here at IB. Partly, it's that we've been around for almost 4 years, so we've built some "cred," and partly it's because we occupy a kind of unique niche: mostly insurance, but also part health news, and often the intersection of the two.
Here's an example of that "fusion:"
I received an email from Sharon Rapport of the Corporation for Supportive Housing. This is a non-profit based in California, whose mission is to help "communities create permanent housing with services to prevent and end homelessness." Now ordinarily, this would seem to have nothing to do with either insurance or health news, but they've released the results of a recent study that shows an interesting, and relevant, trend:
"A report issued today...provides evaluation data from six California counties demonstrating that programs that provide services to "frequent users" of emergency rooms decrease costly emergency room visits and hospitalizations for many patients."
I rather flippantly replied to Ms Rapport: "In a way, this is kind of a "d'uh!" but it's also interesting." [ed: I've apologized to her for my flippant tone] I think the reason I responded that way was because its sad that something which seems so obvious -- on-going, supervised and routine health care means fewer ER visits -- requires a (presumably costly) study. But the results are interesting, and ultimately helpful. If it takes a homeless advocacy group to get folks to understand the importance of preventive care, then so be it.
It also shows something else. If we assume that a non-trivial segment of the uninsured population are also homeless (I offer no proof of this, only supposition), then it seems to me that tax dollars may be well-spent on programs which encourage that cohort to seek more routine care, and enables them to afford it.
As part of the study, the CSH and other advocacy groups set up an intriguing pilot program. Starting some 6 years ago, the "Initiative...provided or connected frequent [ER and hospital] users to medical and mental health care, substance abuse treatment, transportation, housing and benefits." And the results were surprisingly positive:
"(A) 61% decrease in emergency department visits and a 62% decrease in inpatient days" for folks who participated in the study's various programs. That's some serious numbers. And since we know that helath care costs directly impact health insurance costs, there are some valuable lessons to be learned from this.
Kudos to CHS, and Thank You to Sharon Rapport.