A recent study conducted by Thomson Reuters says that communities in the US, known for spending most on health care may not be paying out on it, as much as presumed.
The study analysed private insurance claims for 23.5 million Americans across the U.S. in 2009 and focused on "metropolitan statistical areas" throughout the nation that spent the maximum and minimum on healthcare. The study cut across all ethnicities and age groups in the US.
Established literature has traditionally used data from the Medicare program for the elderly to determine geographic spending variations for people of all ages. The study, however, looked at 382 communities throughout the U.S.
"The real world is actually more complicated than some people might think, and that the patterns you see for the Medicare population aren't exactly the same as the patterns you see for adults or children in the same areas," said William Marder, leading the research.
The study shows the way to better ways of projecting how healthcare cuts affect a community, as Congress considers slashing federal spending on health care, ahead of a November deadline.
McAllen, Texas, a community known for the highest Medicare spending in the U.S. has been put on the list of the ten cheapest areas for individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance.
"What we're looking at here is that McAllen, Texas is actually a pretty cheap place when you start looking at people under age 65," said Marder. The findings, he said, should make policymakers pause before they change the healthcare system of the area without understanding spending patterns deeply.
The study did not examine the causes behind McAllen's spending disparity. Dartmouth Atlas project had earlier attributed McAllen's high spending to doctors performing more tests and diagnostics when compared to similar towns.
An analysis of spending patterns by the study found that it depended on the age of the beneficiary and the type of procedure involved.
Ogden and Clearfield, Utah were identified as the area spending the least on health care for the commercially insured at $2,623 per person. Anderson, Indiana was the most expensive area at $7,231 per person.