January 3, 2018
Every day, homeless patients end up in emergency rooms, and hospitals are increasingly focused on creative ways to care for them while mitigating high medical costs. Their efforts range from offering post-discharge respite care, to residential case management, to contributing funds to the construction of new housing units dedicated to homeless and low-income individuals.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 549,928 people are homeless in America on any given night, with 32% in unsheltered locations. More than 77,000 are chronically homeless.
Without basic resources and support networks, homeless people are five times more likely than others to be admitted to a hospital inpatient unit. And they end up staying an average of four days longer, at a price tag of $2,000 to $4,000 a day. After they’re released, they return to the streets where the day-to-day struggle to survive takes precedent over follow-up care.
“For a long time, hospitals have met their community benefit obligations by providing uncompensated medical care to patients who are uninsured,” said Carol Wilkins, a consultant with Integrated Solutions for People and Places. “With the implementation of the ACA, in states that opted to expand Medicaid eligibility there are now fewer people who are uninsured, although many low-income immigrant patients still don’t have coverage.”
Wilkins said the other big driver is the shift to value-based purchasing. Hospitals are being incentivized to reduce avoidable utilization, and focus on outpatient care where possible.
For questions, comments or concerns, please contact Jennifer Duell Popovec