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UCLA Research Shows Dramatic Savings for Medicaid When Head Start Parents Learn to Care for Kids' Illnesses
Date:11/7/2007

Health Literacy Training Reduced ER and Clinic Visits and Boosted Parents'

Confidence

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- New research proves that a "dose" of hands-on health care training can transform parents' abilities to care for common childhood ailments at home -- and save Medicaid millions of dollars annually.

Tracking 9,240 Head Start families enrolled in a health literacy program -- and impacting nearly 20,000 children in 35 states -- researchers found that visits to a hospital ER or clinic dropped by 58 percent and 42 percent, respectively, as parents opted to treat their children's fevers, colds and earaches at home. This added up to a potential annual savings to Medicaid of $554 per family in direct costs associated with such visits, or about $5.1 million annually, according to the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute for Head Start, which conducted the study.

Moreover, parents' being better informed about handling their children's health needs translated to a 42 percent drop in the average number of days lost at work (from 6.7 to 3.8) and 29 percent drop in days children lost at school (from 13.3 to 9.5). Parents also reported feeling more confident in making health care decisions and in sharing knowledge with others in their families and communities.

Underwritten by Johnson & Johnson, the program carried a one-time cost of $60 per family on average, including pre-visits, hands-on training sessions and post-training follow up. Using $320 as the average cost for a visit to a hospital's emergency room and $80 for a clinic visit, researchers at UCLA Anderson School of Management, which houses the Institute, estimated that savings could reach many millions per year if training were provided for the nearly one million families served by Head Start, many of whom depend on Medicaid. The Institute's 10-year goal is to serve 400,000 Head Start families, reaching approximately half the Head S
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SOURCE UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute
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