Academic medical centers drive up health costs: Boston Globe Op-Ed

Filed Under: Costs

Summary: “Massachusetts has a problem: Even with all the work we have done, health care costs are outrageously high and unsustainable. On average, every Massachusetts resident spends 36 percent more on health care than the national average,” writes Dr. Howard Grant, president and chief executive officer of Lahey Health, in an op-ed piece in The Boston Globe. “Why? Too many of us choose to have our care delivered in the most expensive setting possible — academic medical centers and teaching hospitals — rather than at local community hospitals. Nationally only 16 percent of all Medicare hospitalizations occur in academic medical centers and teaching hospitals. In Massachusetts that number is 40 percent. The truth is, according to many state-funded studies, the quality of care provided at community hospitals is as good as, or in some cases better than, teaching hospitals. Here’s an example: Say you need a knee replacement. You could either choose to go to your local community hospital or you could go to one of Boston’s five academic medical centers to have that surgery. Many of us, without even taking a second to consider our options, will choose to have a common procedure done at what is perceived to be one of the best hospitals in the country, when equally exceptional care is available at community hospitals — closer to home — for a fraction of the cost. It’s because of decisions like this that the cost of health care in Massachusetts is higher than any other state in the nation.” Dr. Howard Grant, “Academic medical centers drive up costs in the health care marketplace,” The Boston Globe.