Trend: Medical home funding sources grow

While the notion of a "medical home" has been bubbling up through the healthcare industry for some time, it's still something of a new idea for many consumers, who've never lived in an era when primary care physicians had the time for leisurely visits. However, with the passage of the new Medicare bill--which authorizes funding for a three-year medical home project--and a growing list of state and federal projects fostering this approach, consumers may yet find out. 

One example of the coming changes can be found in Philadelphia's metro, where 100 physicians are getting extra payments from some of the region's largest insurers to work more closely with 8,400 patients. (Participating health plans include Independence Blue Cross, Aetna and Cigna.) That includes not only traditional visits, but also e-mail and telephone care. Insurers are running similar pilot programs in several states, in programs impacting nearly 2 million patients and thousands of doctors. 

What's more, many other health plans expect to roll out similar programs in the future. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which has 4.7 million members, will spend $30 million this year to help PCPs offer medical home-style services. The program should impact about 4,900 primary care physicians.

Government health organizations are playing with this concept too. In one example, a Medicaid-based medical home project under way in North Carolina saved about $162 million in 2006, 11 percent less than the state would have previously spent. And, of course, there's the Medicare medical home program, which has $100 million in funding.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this article from The New York Times

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