More isnít necessarily better when it comes to medical care, a survey of Medicare patients shows.
Spending on healthcare varies widely across the United States, from $12,000 a year for Miami beneficiaries to $5,700 for comparable care in Minneapolis, previous studies have shown. But research led by Floyd J. Fowler of the University of Massachusetts-Boston shows that money spent on medical care didnít necessarily match perceptions of the quality of that care.
More than 2,000 Medicare patients around the country were asked by phone and mailed questionnaire whether their needs were met, what they thought about the quality of their care as outpatients, and how they would rate their overall medical care.
People living in high-expenditure areas got more medical care than those living in lower-cost areas, judged by such measures as physician visits and cardiac tests. But when asked how they felt about their treatment, more patients living in lower-expenditure areas gave their quality of care top marks (9 or 10 on a scale of 0 to 10) than their peers in the high-priced parts of the country, by a margin of 63.3 percent compared to 55.4 percent.
ďThe results taken together document that spending more on medical care does not improve patientís perceptions of the medical care they receive,Ē the authors write.
In an accompanying editorial, Gerard F. Anderson and Dr. Kalipso Chalkidou of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health write that the United States may have reached the point of diminishing returns for spending on medical care.
"When patients are able to access good-quality objective information on the risks and benefits of the various treament alternatives, they do not necessarily choose more aggressive or more costly interventions," they say.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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