NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

MEDICARE SPENDS MORE IN SOME STATES FOR CARE, STUDY FINDS

May 18, 2006

Medicare spends tens of thousands of dollars more in some states than in others to provide care for beneficiaries with chronic illnesses, but the increased spending does not result in longer life for beneficiaries or higher satisfaction with their quality of care, according to a study by the Dartmouth Atlas Project.

For the study, Dartmouth Medical School researchers examined records of hospital care, tests and physician visits provided to 4.7 million Medicare beneficiaries during the last two years of their lives. Study participants were ages 67 and older and had at least one of 12 chronic illnesses. Study participants died between 2000 and 2003.

According to the researchers:

  • Medicare spent the most on average -- $39,810 -- to provide care for participants in New Jersey, followed by the District of Columbia, California and New York.
  • Medicare spent the least on average -- $23,697 -- to provide care for participants in Idaho, followed by Iowa, West Virginia and North Dakota.

Furthermore:

  • Participants in New Jersey had the highest average number of physician visits during the last six months of their lives at 41.5, and those in Utah had the lowest average number at 17.
  • Participants in Hawaii spent the highest average number of days in the hospital during the last six months of their lives at 16.4 and those in Utah spent the lowest average number at 7.3.
  • For each chronic illness, the researchers found higher mortality rates among participants who received the most care.

Source: Julie Appleby, "Spending on health care varies widely by state, hospitals," USA Today, May 16, 2006; based upon: "The Care of Patients with Severe Chronic Illness:An Online Report on the Medicare Program," Dartmouth Atlas Project, May 16, 2006.

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