“The Price Ain’t Right?” That’s the title of a new study that suggests places that spend less on Medicare do not necessarily spend less on health care overall.
In fact, according to the New York Times, President Obama used Grand Junction, Colorado as a model community for spending less on Medicare without affecting people’s health. However, the new study claims Grand Junction is one of the most expensive health care markets in the country for the privately insured.
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 Times article also allows viewers to input other U.S. cities to compare Medicare spending with spending through private insurance. So we did that with Phoenix and Tucson and the results that were returned are below.
Spending on Medicare patients in Phoenix is slightly higher than the national average while private health insurance spending is below the average. Tucson checked in with the 83rd lowest spending for Medicare and the 7th lowest spending for private insurance.
Check out the Times story and let us know what you think about these new findings and how they might affect health care and health spending in Arizona.