Narrator: This is Science Today. A recent study argues that Medicare does not pay for many of the services an older patient needs on an initial visit to the doctor. Geriatrician Elizabeth Landsverk of the University of California, San Francisco, began the research because of her own experiences working with the senior population.
Landsverk: Having been out in practice for ten years, I found that it was really difficult to do all the things that the older population seemed to need in the time I was allotted. And it seemed that we weren't getting reimbursed for the full work that we did.
Narrator: Landsverk found that 37% of the appointment was not covered, including crucial time spent evaluating older patients' ability to function at home. She says the consequences can be both financially and medically costly.
Landsverk: You're more likely to have someone who is failing at home and the first hint you have of it is that they end up in the hospital instead of figuring out what's going on at home and trying to address those issues before there's a medical crisis.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.