Health homes support positive health outcomes for kids by delivering coordinated, high-quality health care. A health home is a team-based model providing a comprehensive range of health care services in a personalized, coordinated manner, including medical, dental, mental health and support services.
By ensuring kids have comprehensive, ongoing care, this team-based delivery model leads to high-quality health services and positive health outcomes. At UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, a Pediatric Medical Home Project that serves over 130 children found that once children were enrolled in a health home, emergency room visits went down dramatically.
Still, only 45% of children in California get coordinated care through a health home. The data are worse for California’s vulnerable children – only 36% of kids with special health care needs and 25% of children in poverty are served by a health home.
Studies find that inadequate coordination reduces the quality of care and leads to unnecessarily high costs, particularly for kids with the greatest needs. In some extreme cases, annual health care costs were nearly five times higher for patients who lacked coordinated care. One Texas study of kids with severe chronic illnesses found that those without a health home had nearly three times higher rates of intensive care admissions, and spent over three times more days in intensive care. If care for the highest-risk patients were coordinated, one study estimated that the U.S. could save more than $240 billion a year, or nearly nine percent of all healthcare expenditures.
Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda
California should ensure that children have access to family-centered, comprehensive, coordinated and accessible care through a health home.
California is developing a statewide Health Homes Program for enrollees in Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, to serve individuals with multiple chronic conditions. Through the program, eligible children can receive comprehensive care that is coordinated, referrals to community and social support services and supports for themselves and their families.