Study: Investment in community health saves states millions

While states are struggling to hold their budgets together, keeping basic services in place can pay off. That's definitely the case when it comes to primary care, according to a new study conducted by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. While the report focused on community health centers in Indiana, researchers say that it has implications for all of the United States.

Indiana, in its case, is facing growing healthcare costs and a steadily smaller state budget with which to fund them. Over the next 35 years, researchers predict that healthcare spending will absorb half of Indiana's budget, cutting into spending on education and public safety. The rise in healthcare costs have already led to a 9 percent drop in employer-based coverage in Indiana between 2001 and 2005, resulting in rising rates of uninsured citizens.

However, for every dollar spent on patient care at the state's community health center, the state saved $1.90 in healthcare spending.  That's partly because services delivered at CHC are cheaper than services at other outpatient provider settings, with an annual per-patient cost of $1,529 at CHCs vs. $2,924 in other settings.

Overall, lower medical costs saved Indiana's healthcare system $473 million through reduced use of the emergency room and lower rates of inpatient hospitalizations.

To learn more about CHC savings:
- read this Healthcare Finance News piece

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