Select UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans offer a program called HouseCalls, where a doctor will come to your home to perform a wellness visit. The HouseCalls program claims to have made 5 million house calls so far. Eligible patients can receive one wellness checkup annually.
In-home doctor house calls allow your more time to talk with a doctor, a comfortable and convenient setting, and a chance to catch any potential health problems early, without having to go to the doctor’s office.
What happens at the visit?
At the visit, a doctor or nurse practitioner will:
- Perform a wellness checkup
- Review your medications
- Arrange for tests and screenings if needed
- Assess living conditions and social needs
- Make referrals as needed
If you don’t wish to have the appointment in your home, you can choose another location to meet. You can also have a family member, friend, or caregiver with you during the appointment.
Healthcare practitioners who perform house calls are nurse practitioners, medical doctors, or doctors of osteopathic medicine. House call visits last 45 minutes to an hour.
The doctor who performs the house calls will forward any pertinent information to your primary care physician. If needed, the doctor will refer you to a specialist or other program. You will also receive a letter outlining what to ask your doctor at your next primary care visit.
If health problems are caught in time, it can save both beneficiaries and Medicare in the long run. Identifying health problems early on will save Medicare money, and enrollees from having to be admitted to the hospital, move to a nursing home, or develop worsening conditions.
Research on Medicare Advantage house calls
A study published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that Medicare patients receiving primary care at home saved 17% in health spending. And a 2015 RAND study found that patients who benefited from UnitedHealthcare’s HouseCalls experienced 14% fewer hospitalizations than people who had not received house calls through the program.
UnitedHealthcare is looking to expand the HouseCalls program. “We’re focused on evolving HouseCalls to enhance its value both to the people we serve and the broader health care system,” says Brian Thompson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement.