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Intel and GE Team Up to Make Home Health Devices

August 3 2010 | by

Intel and General Electric are creating a new company that will provide medical care and assistive technologies to the elderly and people with chronic illnesses, according to BusinessWeek.

Intel and GE hope to bring more health care devices into homes, which they say will help lower health care costs and increase the quality of life for those living with disability, chronic illnesses like diabetes and age-related diseases such as Alzheimers.

“Chronic conditions account for more than 75 percent of health care spending in the U.S.,” says Omar Ishrak, senior vice president of GE and president and CEO of GE Healthcare Systems.

Intel has been making its foray into the heath devices field, and in November 2009 launched the Intel Reader, an device that combines a high-resolution camera and optical character recognition to take a picture of a book – and read it aloud — to people with vision impairments and learning disorders. GE offers consulting and sells medical devices in areas that include cardiology and oncology.

Intel and GE will each own half of the new venture, which is expected to launch by the end of the year. The company’s name has not been made public yet.

Still, the companies face a challenge with getting such devices paid for by most health insurers and public systems like Medicare, who won’t cover the cost of most in-home care or medical devices. Medicare only pays for time-limited, medically necessary skilled nursing facility care or home health care if certain conditions are met.

Health care reform may alleviate some of these issues. For example, the New Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program is a national voluntary insurance program that will be available after October 2012 to help pay for services and supports in the home. People over age 18 who are working will have the opportunity to enroll in the CLASS Program, and after contributing to the program for five years, will get a minimum of $50 a day in cash benefits to help pay for supports.

Private long-term health insurance is another option. Some policies may cover only nursing home care, while others may include coverage for a range of services like adult day care, assisted living, medical equipment, and home care.

Veterans can also receive in-home benefits such as the Housebound and Aid and Attendance Allowance Program, which provides cash benefits to eligible disabled Veterans and surviving spouses to get a homemaker, personal care, and other services.

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