Higher Standard of Care for Patients with Limb Loss or Spinal Injuries Produces Long-Term Benefits in Medicare Costs: White Paper

August 30, 2013
Terry McDonald CO
American Board Certified Orthotist

Failing to provide orthotics and prosthetics services during the initial treatment process for Medicare patients results in higher long-term taxpayer cost. A major new study conducted by Dr. Allen Dobson and commissioned by the Amputee Coalition reveals compelling support for claims made within the Orthotics and Prosthetics community for years: that early interventions and a high standard of care at the outset of treatment benefits patients and taxpayers.

The Dobson study examined nearly 42,000 paired sets of Medicare beneficiaries with claims from 2007-2010. Claims pertaining to Medicare patients who received full orthotic and prosthetic care and related clinical services were compared against claims from Medicare patient who did not receive such care. In publishing their key finding, study investigators asserted that patients who received orthotic and prosthetic services have lower or comparable Medicare costs than patients who needed, but did not receive, these services.

Patients who received lower extremity orthoses had fewer acute care hospitalizations and emergency room admissions, and they were able to sustain more rehabilitation than patients who did not receive needed orthoses. Financial statistics revealed a difference of nearly $3,000, on average, between the long-term Medicare claims associated with each patient grouping over an 18-month period; patients receiving orthoses had fewer associated costs than patients who did not receive them. The study notes comparable long-term Medicare costs between full-treatment and lesser-treatment patients needing spinal orthoses and those needing lower extremity prostheses during the same 18-month time frame.

At Anchor Orthotics and Prosthetics, the aim has always been to provide the utmost level of service and care for Medicare patients and patients of all backgrounds. It is no mystery that patients maintain higher levels of activity and satisfaction with proper and suitable interventions in place, and although the initial costs associated with certain devices can be large the long-term cost of care trends downward in many cases.

Of particular note is the Dobson study’s supplemental assertion that patients who did receive orthotic or prosthetic interventions at the onset of treatment also tended to participate in more consistent rates of physical therapy and rehabilitation. The study authors noted that such participation allows full-treatment patients a greater ability to remain independent and avoid high-cost facility-based care. This close association between the device(s) used during treatment and related therapy and rehabilitation is a well-documented fact, and it is the reason why Anchor Orthotics and Prosthetics offers in-house therapy options in conjunction with the preparation and delivery of patients’ orthotic and/or prosthetic devices.

To enable all patients to attain success and have a better quality of life with orthotic and/or prosthetic care is the aim of all excellent providers. It is refreshing to see that such an aim can produce additional benefits for taxpayers as well. That is a clear win-win scenario.

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