Medicare-certified home health care: Urban-rural differences in utilization

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Context: Availability of Medicare-certified home health care (HHC) to rural elders can prevent more expensive institutional care. To date, utilization of HHC by rural elders has not been studied in detail. Purpose: To examine urban-rural differences in Medicare HHC utilization. Methods: The 2002 100% Medicare HHC claims and denominator files were used to estimate use of HHC and to make urban-rural comparisons on the basis of utilization levels within ZIP codes. Findings: Overall, the proportion of Medicare beneficiaries living in areas with little HHC utilization is relatively low. Rural elders, however, are more likely than their urban counterparts to live in such areas. Less than 1% of urban beneficiaries live in ZIP codes with no or low use of HHC, but over 17% of the most rural beneficiaries live in such areas. Conclusions: Continued monitoring of rural HHC utilization and access is important, especially as Medicare seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of payment increases to rural home health agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-257
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007


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