The Amputee Coalition released a report earlier this week highlighting the benefits of orthotic and prosthetic care to the longevity of the Medicare trust fund. The Amputee Coalition commissioned Dobson DeVanzo & Associates to research the impact of orthotic and prosthetic care on Medicare patients and the cost savings that can be associated with a patient receiving a custom orthosis or prosthesis. The report examined a group of 42,000 paired sets of Medicare beneficiary claims from 2007-2010 and compared the impact of receiving a orthosis/prosthesis versus patients that did not receive a needed orthosis/prosthesis.
The end result of the report? Taxpayers end up paying more over the long term in most cases when Medicare patients are not provided with replacement lower limbs, spinal orthotics, and hip/knee/ankle orthotics. Patients who received orthotic or prosthetic services have lower or comparable Medicare costs than patients who need, but do not receive, these services. The report further details that Medicare could experience 10 percent savings ($2,920 less) for those receiving lower extremity orthoses and comparable payments for patients receiving spinal orthoses and lower extremity prostheses.
How do the initially high cost of some orthotic and prosthetic devices end up reducing long term costs? The studied devices are associated with higher rates of physical therapy and rehabilitation, allowing patients benefiting from them to remain in the community and avoid costly facility-based care. Patients are generally able to become less bedbound and more independent, which may be associated with fewer emergency room (ER) admissions and acute care hospital admissions. The reduced use of hospital services and facility-based care offsets the cost of the devices, producing Medicare savings and better quality-of-life outcomes for patients.
The full study, commissioned by the Amputee Coalition and funded by an American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association grant, can be found here