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Outpatient Preventive Care Efforts Lower Costs Only Marginally

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 25, 2013

But that may be largely offset by the fact that more patients will need that care as they age.

In an accompanying editorial, Aaron Carroll, MD, and Austin Frakt, PhD, of Indian University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System, called Joynt's results "sobering," because they "confirmed what many know to be true—that 10% of the Medicare population accounts for about 70% of the program's spending."

However, that such a small amount of this spending, 9.6%, "is certainly nothing to ignore, yet even saving the entire amount (which is unlikely) is not the panacea some might have hoped," they wrote. "Increasing outpatient services may not be a mechanism for reducing spending."

The article was released one day prior to JAMA's usual publication date to coincide with Joynt's presentation of the paper at the annual research meeting of AcademyHealth in Baltimore.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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