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Population health plays a bigger role in geographic differences in Medicare spending
Date:5/12/2010

licy Center and the lead author of the study.

"Our findings indicate that the conventional wisdom about the magnitude of unexplained geographic differences in Medicare spending may be overstated and that policies based on these misperceptions may reward or penalize areas inappropriately."

Mean Medicare spending per beneficiary ranged 52 percent from $4,721 in the least expensive regions to $7,183 in the most expensive regions. By expanding the set of health measures in their analysis, the researchers found that 29 percent of the difference was based on health and only 33 percent remained unexplained. These results suggest that much of the observed geographic differences found in previous research were due to patients' demographic characteristics and health status rather than to inefficiencies in health care treatment.

"Medicare spending was $484 billion in 2009. We all have a stake in providing medical care as efficiently as possible in order to free up resources for other pressing social and personal needs," says Hadley. "By suggesting that geographic differences in Medicare spending may not be the best indicators of where inefficiency lies, this study may help redirect the search for improved efficiency to studies of the comparative effectiveness of alternative treatments for specific diseases and conditions."


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Contact: Marjorie Musick
mmusick@gmu.edu
703-993-8781
George Mason University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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