Hospital care: Getting what you pay for

Health care shoppers looking for the best deal should remember the little lagniappe that came with the state insurance plan: The “My Health Care Options” page. This simple database allows patients to compare hospitals on costs and quality.  So, if you get to choose between two hospitals, you can opt for a four-star angioplasty, c-section or  gall bladder operation. (Watch those co-pays; they can add up.)

But an article posted last week on the Health Affairs website suggests that hospitals themselves don’t always get what they pay for. The researchers looked at how much hospitals spend on care , not how much they bill patients. It was written by the practice-pattern variation watchers at Dartmouth and Amitabh Chandraof Harvard’s Kennedy School

Hospital Quality And Intensity Of Spending: Is There An Association?

Here’s the abstract:

Numerous studies in the United States have examined the association between quality and spending at the regional level. In this paper we evaluate this relationship at the level of individual hospitals, which are a more natural unit of analysis for reporting on and improving accountability. For all of the quality indicators studied, the association with spending is either nil or negative. The absence of positive correlations suggests that some institutions achieve exemplary performance on quality measures in settings that feature lower intensity of care. This finding highlights the need for reporting information on both quality and spending.


 Coming up this week: BHN hosts the Health Wonk Review, the floating digest of highlights from health bloggers near and far. My job – spare you from an avalanche of people who think they can use it to sell bogus  diets, supplements and nursing degrees.


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