Beginning in January, Medicare will pay primary care physicians a monthly fee to coordinate care for vulnerable seniors (defined as those with multiple chronic illnesses). About 67% of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more chronic conditions. Ideally, this will help patients remain healthier between visits and avoid high hospital costs. It will also ensure that multiple treatments do not mix poorly, and tests are not repeated twice. This initiative is another project by Medicare to strengthen primary care and save money.
Medicare's new fee is about $40 a month per patient. This is a huge transition, as the Medicare program usually only pays for services in the doctor's office. In order to earn the new fee, physicians must develop a care plan for the qualified patients, coordinate their care with other health providers, and monitor their medications. Patients must also be able to contact someone with access to their health records 24/7.
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