Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The complexities of health-care costs in America

The New York Times continues its excellent work on trying to investigate and explain the complexities of health-care costs in America with this fascinating piece: The Experts Were Wrong About the Best Places for Better and Cheaper Health Care.

Health care researchers who have seen the new findings say they are likely to force a rethinking of some conventional wisdom about health care. In particular, they cast doubt on the wisdom of encouraging mergers among hospitals, as parts of the 2010 health care law did.

Larger, integrated hospital systems – like those in Grand Junction – can often spend less money in Medicare, by avoiding duplicative treatments. But those systems also tend to set higher prices in private markets, because they face relatively little local competition.

The article goes on to note that:

Below, a scatterplot showing medical spending per person for Medicare and private insurance for all 306 hospital referral regions in the United States.

The chart looks random, and that’s the point: There is no real relationship between spending in one system and the other.

The answers aren't easy, but the article gives lots of suggestions for further investigation, and for further thought.

And big thanks to The New York Times for continuing to chip away at this complicated yet crucial puzzle.

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