Not Much Money to Be Saved from Medicaid's Most Expensive Services

More complicated than researchers thought


Treating the costliest Medicare patients in doctors' offices instead of emergency rooms or hospitals whenever possible may not save as much money as originally hoped, according to a new study.

After analyzing recent data on more than one million Medicare patients, researchers found that only about a tenth of the money spent on the program's most expensive patients was for care that could be provided without a trip to the hospital.

"I think it's a more complicated problem than we thought," said Dr. Karen Joynt, the study's lead author, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.