To achieve the project goal, records for more than 29,000 Medicare beneficiaries who received Meals on Wheels services between 2009 and 2014 were compiled from 13 Meals on Wheels programs across six states. The final analytic sample included 14,000 Meals on Wheels/Medicare beneficiaries.
Two sets of analyses were conducted. Method 1 compared healthcare utilization and costs for Meals on Wheels clients prior to and following receipt of Meals on Wheels services over a 30-, 90- and 180-day period. Method 2, describes differences in healthcare utilization and costs between Meals on Wheels clients and a control group of Medicare beneficiaries who did not receive Meals on Wheels services.
Findings suggest that Meals on Wheels recipients’ healthcare utilization and costs declined post-enrollment periods compared to the equivalent amount of time before enrollment.
Findings suggest that Meals on Wheels clients had higher rates of healthcare utilization than those who did not receive Meals on Wheels services.
Researchers speculate that findings may be limited and should be interpreted with caution for a number of plausible reasons. Explanations range from a clear pent-up need for short-term services from a highly vulnerable population which could level out and result in savings over time with continued delivery of Meals on Wheels services; to the possibility that the data available in the Medicare Claims records may not have included all factors that could have resulted in some significant differences in those receiving services compared to those not receiving services.