Better Follow-up Care May Prevent Hospital Readmissions, says

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Up to one-fifth of all Medicare patients are readmitted within a month of discharge and one-third are re-hospitalized within 90 days, says

That is why controlling health care costs has become increasingly urgent

The U.S. spends billions each year on patients who are readmitted to the hospital when better follow-up care may have prevented it, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine based on Medicare claims information for 2003 and 2004.

“That is why controlling health care costs has become increasingly urgent,” said Alan Weinstock, an insurance broker with, an agency specializing in Medicare supplement insurance. The site offers senior citizens the opportunity to compare rates, plans and benefits from several prominent insurance companies.

According to the study, too many older patients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, leave a hospital without receiving clear instructions about medications or follow-up care. The problem is further aggravated when they have difficulty making additional doctor appointments. Half of patients returning to the hospital within 30 days of receiving care for services other than surgery did not see a doctor before they were readmitted. That high rate of unplanned care cost $17 billion in 2004 alone.

The study indicated that in order to reduce the large number of hospital readmissions, Medicare and other insurers will eventually need to reward those medical providers who help patients get and stay well.

“Having the right insurance coverage and proper follow up care is essential to ensuring that older Americans don’t return to the hospital,” Weinstock said. He added that may mean providing better coaching to patients and recognizing when a condition is worsening.

It also may mean that seniors need to find the best Medigap insurance coverage for them, given that Medicare often does not cover all health care costs. Weinstock indicates that can be done by visiting


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Alan Weinstock

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