Identifying High-Price, Low-Price Healthcare Markets

Not only do healthcare markets across the country vary, but there are stark differences between healthcare markets within the same state, according to the Healthy Marketplace Index Report from the Health Care Cost Institute.

Not only do healthcare markets across the country vary, but there are stark differences between healthcare markets within the same state, according to the Healthy Marketplace Index Report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI).

The report, created with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows economic performance of more than 40 healthcare markets using local-level measures of healthcare findncing and delivery avaliable for the privately insured population.

“No single measure can predict the health of a local market. However, the Healthy Marketplace Index gives us a much clearer picture of how health care systems are performing,” Eric Barrette, director of research at HCCI, said in a statement. “We hope that this information will help researchers, employers, health plans, and providers better understand the markets they operate in and develop meaningful policies that improve the value of health care services.”

The report identified high-price areas as Boulder, CO; El Paso, TX; Bridgeport, CT; Dallas TX; Milwaukee, WI; Philadelphia, PA; Denver, CO; and Fort Collins, CO. The prices for inpatient care in Fort Collins was, on average, 43% higher than prices in Colorado Springs, just 2 hours south. Low-price areas were Tucson, AZ; St. Louis, MO; New Orleans, LA; Peoria, IL; and Louisville, KY.

The HCCI analysis found that prices are not tied to healthcare use. For example, even though Denver has high prices, it also had high use. In addition, the report found that price patterns are not consistent and there was an association between inpatient services and health.

“The Healthy Marketplace Index succinctly characterizes some of the most important attributes of health care marketplaces that influence not only health outcomes, but also public and private spending on health care,” says Katherine Hempstead, director of health insurance coverage at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We hope the information is valuable to local stakeholders, such as consumers, employers, and policymakers, who are trying to improve the health care delivered in their communities.”