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Saving Money and Improving Care

Saving Money and Improving Care by Integrating Health Care

By Melissa Hansen Vol . 20, No. 06 / February 2012

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Federally Qualified Health Centers provide services to Medicaid beneficiaries.

Many patients—including those on Medicaid—who visit a doctor’s office, community health center or retail clinic have a physical ailment exacerbated by stress, depression, anxiety, a psychological disorder, or alcohol and substance abuse. These are collectively referred to as behavioral health needs. Adding one of these to an existing chronic disease can increase the cost of care by as much as 300 percent. This may be attributed to patients’ not complying with doctor recommendations (including forgetting to take medication), duplication of tests, and increased hospitalization because of a poorly managed chronic disease.

Since many Medicaid patients with several physical problems also have a behavioral health issue, integrating the care of their physical problems with their behavioral health needs is vital. Doing so can save states money while improving patients’ health.

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