Background: The medical home (MH) model has prompted increasing attention given its potential to improve quality of care while reducing health expenditures.
Objectives: We compare overall and specific health care expenditures in Belgium, from the third-party payer perspective (compulsory social insurance), between patients treated at individual practices (IP) and at MHs. We compare the sociodemographic profile of MH and IP users.
Research Design: This is a retrospective study using public insurance claims data. Generalized linear models estimate the impact on health expenditures of being treated at a MH versus IP, controlling for individual, and area-based sociodemographic characteristics. The choice of primary care setting is modeled using logistic regressions.
Subjects: A random sample of 43,678 persons followed during the year 2004.
Measures: Third-party payer expenditures for primary care, secondary care consultations, pharmaceuticals, laboratory tests, acute and long-term inpatient care.
Results: Overall third-party payer expenditures do not differ significantly between MH and IP users (€+27). Third-party payer primary care expenditures are higher for MH than for IP users (€+129), but this difference is offset by lower expenditures for secondary care consultations (€−11), drugs (€−40), laboratory tests (€−5) and acute and long-term inpatient care (€−53). MHs attract younger and more underprivileged populations.
Conclusions: MHs induce a shift in expenditures from secondary care, drugs, and laboratory tests to primary care, while treating a less economically favored population. Combined with positive results regarding quality, MH structures are a promising way to tackle the challenges of primary care.