Money Doesn't Buy Health

PureInsight | March 17, 2003

[] Patients in areas where more money is spent on medical care do not appear to fare better or to be more satisfied, according to two studies released on February 17, 2003 in The Annals of Internal Medicine.

According to a New York Times article published on February 18, 2003, researchers from the Veterans Affairs Outcomes Group and Dartmouth Medical School first looked at how much was spent on care in the last six months of patients' lives to create a map of spending levels across the country. They then looked at the records of nearly a million Medicare patients who suffered hip fractures, colon cancer or heart attacks from 1993 to 1995 to see how the patients fared.

The researchers found no significant differences in death rates or patients' levels of functioning. Patients reported different levels of satisfaction on their surveys, but those discrepancies cut across spending lines with no clear pattern, the study said.

The researchers said the differences in spending were unlikely to be explained by the seriousness of their illnesses; patients seemed to be roughly as sick everywhere. In a second article released in The Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers analyzed the extra spending and found that it went primarily toward more frequent hospitalizations, diagnostic tests and referrals to specialists.

People everywhere want to enjoy perfect health and are willing to spend whatever it takes to have that. But this study shows that just like fate, good fortune and bad fortune, one's health is not related to one's wealth.


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