Study: Hospital costs vary greatly by location

New data from Dartmouth Medical School highlights a problem that is likely to become more widely discussed as health reform schemes--and related calls for pricing controls--continue to move forward. Researchers compiling information for the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, which comes out every two years, examined records of 4.7 million patients who died during 2001 to 2005. What they found was the kind of disparities in costs that continue to frustrate policy-makers and employers. For example, they found that for chronically ill patients in their last two years of life, Medicare spends an average of $59,379 in New Jersey, but only $32,523 in North Dakota, largely due to New Jersey patients getting more hospital care. (The national average for such spending was $46,412.) Unfortunately, more hospital care didn't equate to better outcomes; such patients were seen by more specialists, and spent more time in the ICU, but didn't live longer on average.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Associated Press article

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SPOTLIGHT: Berwick: Quality cuts Medicare costs. Report

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