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Broker News | Vol. 8, No. 16 | August 9, 2013
Broker News | Vol. 8, No. 16 | August 9, 2013

New National Report Shows Upstate New York has Some of the Lowest Health Care Spending in the Country

Several upstate New York regions, long recognized for high quality health care, were ranked among the lowest Medicare health spending regions in the nation among 306 markets reviewed, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

The report, Variation in Health Care Spending: Target Decision Making, Not Geography, examined regional differences in health care spending, utilization and quality. The report also explored whether certain payment methods should be changed to address the regional variations.

On table G-1 at the end of the report, Rochester was ranked as having the lowest total Medicare health spending rate per beneficiary in the country among 306 regional markets;  $174 per month lower than the median of the group. Other upstate New York regions were among the lowest 10 percent of the markets measured. Buffalo had the fourth lowest costs. Syracuse was ranked with the 19th lowest, while Binghamton and Elmira were 25th and 26th lowest.

“The IOM report confirms that consumers in upstate New York get great value for their health care dollars,” said Christopher Booth, CEO for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Our collaborative, community-wide approach to providing health care and our region’s reliance on non-profit health insurers and hospitals gives consumers and employers who buy health insurance the greatest value for their money.”

The IOM report on upstate New York’s lower health care costs follows a national report by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Urban Institute showing that while communities such as Rochester pay less, they also maintain high quality of care.

“Collaboration works among all of the stakeholders in health care when people put community health first,” said Martin Lustick, MD, senior vice-president and chief corporate medical director for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “For example, Rochester has a long history of community planning to make sure we have enough health care services available without overbuilding the system.”

The IOM report is also validation for having a major, locally-based, non-profit health insurer.  “We have an interest in keeping health care costs low for both Medicare and our commercial customers,” Lustick said. “Because we are locally based, we view that it is as equally important to have a solid health care delivery system to attract new businesses to the region as it is to have costs that are affordable.”

Editor’s Notes:

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