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Monday, September 14, 2009

REPORT: VARIATIONS IN HEALTH COSTS DRIVEN BY ECONOMIC AND HEALTH FACTORS

Poverty and poor health, not pervasive overtreatment and overtesting, are the causes of much of the geographic variation in health care spending in the United States, according to a new report from the Physicians’ Foundations. The report found that wealthier communities use more services and have better health and better outcomes; low-income individuals use more services, yet have worse outcomes; and patients who are in the poorest health use the most health care services and have the poorest outcomes. In a study prepared for President Obama and Congress, Richard Cooper, MD, professor of medicine and senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and others also found that today’s health care system doesn’t have the resources or workforce to handle the load of new patients that would come with universal access envisioned by national reform legislation. It calls for substantial increases in federal support for undergraduate and graduate medical education to offset a projected shortage of 200,000 physicians by 2025. I highly recommend you take the time to read the report (PDF) or the executive summary (PDF). It includes vital information our national leaders must consider as they make decisions that will impact you, your patients, and the entire health care delivery system for many years to come, if not forever.

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