McAllen, Tex. has expensive health care — and lots of company
McAllen, Tex. rose to infamy (well, health policy infamy at least) during the health reform debate, as a lot of what’s wrong with health care in America. Hospitals in the area spent a lot more on medicine than nearby cities but, as Atul Gawande wrote, did not deliver better results.
Turns out, McAllen may not be so special. New data suggests that hundreds of hospitals across the country spend just as much, if not more, than the hospital Gawande profiled:
The average patient from Doctors Hospital cost Medicare $18,708, 4 percent more than the national median per patient payment of $17,988.
But their costs to Medicare were the same or less than patients at other 790 hospitals. Medicare paid as much for the average patient at Doctors as it did for patients at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Florida Hospital in Orlando or Wyoming Medical Center in Casper.
Hospitals in other regions look much worse than McAllen, where the priciest hospital in McAllen, South Texas Health System, cost Medicare 7 percent more than the median. In Las Vegas, patients at 14 of 16 hospitals cost Medicare 9 percent or more above the national median. Los Angeles has hospitals whose patients cost Medicare 30 percent or more above the national median.
This, of course, does not include data on outcomes, which makes it hard to know whether the extra spending in some areas is a worthwhile investment. Either way, it suggests that McAllen isn’t necessarily an anomaly: High health care costs are everywhere.