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The Cost of Care:

Health Care Fact of the Week Archives


47% of surveyed physicians in Michigan plan to stop practicing medicine in 10 years or less. Reasons cited for this include increased administrative/regulatory burdens and inadequate reimbursement for services from publicly-funded programs. Michigan Department of Community Health, 2009 Survey of Physicians


In just two years, spending on MRIs, mammograms, and other imaging tests climbed by at least $214 million in Massachusetts, helping to fuel a dramatic rise in the cost of outpatient hospital care. The Boston Globe


American children are ~three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe. A study claims that the differences may be accounted for by regulatory practices and cultural beliefs about the role of medication in emotional and behavioral problems.


While the average length of hospital stays has decreased by a full day since the early 1990s, the cost per stay increased by an average of 3.1% annually during the same period. -- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services/Thomson Reuters white paper, HCUP Facts and Figures, 2007


According to a new employer survey conducted by The National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments, despite the outcome of health care reform, 91% of employers will continue to invest in their health management programs. More than half (57%) of companies report that they use incentives with cash value for their wellness programs. The most common incentives were reducing employee health care premiums and offering cash and contributions to a health reimbursement arrangement or a health savings account. Employee Benefit News


Making health care transactions more efficient through automation may present one of the best opportunities for near term savings. Savings of more than $200 billion, nearly 8% of national health care expenditures, are achievable from reduced administrative waste, improved efficiency and elimination of fraud through transaction automation. Can we reduce health care spending? Searching for low-hanging fruit in the garden of health system reform, The Lewin Group, October 2009


Among states, Connecticut ranks third in both access to health care and healthiness. Compared with other states, it has low incidences of suicide and colorectal cancer deaths and relatively low percentage of smokers compared with other states. Connecticut ranks less favorably in terms of avoidable hospital visits and costs of care: 32nd out of 50 states. Forbes


CIGNA study results show positive impact of consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs). Key findings:

- CDHP medical costs are 14% less than traditional plans the first year, cumulative cost savings rise to 19% in the second year, 23% in the third year, and 26% in the fourth year.

- Use of preventive care, evidence-based care and disease management program participation were measurably better among those in CIGNA CDHPs than those in PPOs and HMOs.

Fourth Annual CIGNA Choice Fund Experience Study, December 2009


A recent study of spending growth among the privately insured between 2001 and 2006 found that most spending growth was driven by outpatient services [including physician services] and pharmaceuticals. Growth in quantity utilized as opposed to price changes represented the entire growth in outpatient spending and approximately 75% of growth in spending on prescription drugs. -- Health Care Cost Growth Among the Privately Insured, Health Affairs


The top 5% of enrollees in Medicaid accounted for more than half of all Medicaid spending in 2004. -- Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured/Urban Institute estimates based on MSIS 2004 data


An estimated $700 billion of all U.S. health care expenditures is designated as waste. At 40%, “unwarranted use” represents the largest share. -- Thomson Reuters white paper: Where can $700 billion in waste be cut annually from the U.S. health care system? October 2009


"We estimate that permanent 100 kcal (calorie) reductions in daily intake would eliminate approximately 71.2 million cases of overweight/obesity and save $58 billion annually. Modest to aggressive changes in diet can improve health and reduce annual national medical expenditures by $60 billion to $120 billion." -- Thomson Reuters white paper: Where can $700 billion in waste be cut annually from the U.S. health care system? October 2009

In a recent survey of more than 900 physicians in Massachusetts, approximately 83%reported practicing defensive medicine (tests, procedures, referrals, hospitalizations or prescriptions ordered by physicians fearful of lawsuits). These increasingly widespread practices were estimated to cost a minimum of $1.4 Billion per year in Massachusetts alone. -- UCONN Advance, February 2009


Brand-name prescription drug prices rose 8% in 2008, the highest level in five years, but increased use of generic drugs limited overall prescription drug spending growth to 3.3%. -- AIS's Health Plan Facts Trends and Data 2009-2010


In 2008, uncompensated care costs of approx. $42.7 billion were shifted to the non-Medicare, non-Medicaid population, resulting in a premium add-on of an estimated $1,017 per family and $368 per single person in the private insurance market. -- Families USA press release, May 28, 2009