A study by Dartmouth College claims Iowa hospitals lead the nation in terms of controlling costs for chronically ill patients. The report shows Medicare spent, on average, just over $39,000 per patient for end-of-life care in Iowa. That’s 30 percent below the national average. Scott McIntyre is a spokesperson for the Iowa Hospital Association.
"In some of those state, costs were significantly higher…50, 60, 70 percent higher than Iowa. The author’s conclusion was more is not necessarily better and a place like Iowa is an efficient user of healthcare that should be used as a benchmark for the rest of the country," McIntyre said.
The report’s authors also commend Iowa for it’s system of primary healthcare, meaning Iowans are more likely to have a regular doctor and spend less time in the hospital. "They aren’t meeting with a lot of specialists needlessly, they aren’t getting a lot of tests they don’t need, and it means they don’t spend a lot of days in an intensive care unit," McIntyre said.
Dartmouth researchers say taxpayers in Iowa and other low-cost states are essentially subsidizing the excessive care seen in much of the nation. "If other states and other hospitals were as efficient as Iowa, billions of dollars could be saved," McIntyre said. He says the savings could then be used to expand Medicare to cover uninsured Americans.