Noteworthy News

New Approach to Super-Utilizers: Free Housing

A Chicago hospital is experimenting with a new way of serving its most frequent uninsured ER visitors: arranging for free housing.

The University of Illinois Hospital has found that many of its most frequent ER patients, while suffering from numerous and chronic medical problems, turn to its ER for overnight accommodations during harsh weather. Under a pilot program, the hospital is spending $1000 a month to put its homeless super-utilizers into free housing.

iStock_000000522737XSmallWith overnight hospital stays for uninsured patients costing $3000, the program offers the potential for significant savings for the hospital. In addition to free housing, participating patients are assigned a case manager to help coordinate their health care needs.

Such patients can be found outside of places like Chicago that have occasionally harsh weather, and so-called super-utilizers frequent hospitals because of medical problems, not just harsh weather. In fact, about half of overall Medicaid spending is for just five percent of the program’s 55 million participants. Urban safety-net hospitals serve significant numbers of such patients.

Learn more about how the University of Illinois Hospital is attempting to meet the needs of its uninsured super-utilizers in this report from National Public Radio.

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