Blame aggressive treatment, tech for rising costs

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Wholesome, clean-living and thrifty, Provo, Utah, has always been a Dartmouth Atlas darling. But in recent years, health costs in Provo – like those in similarly cheap markets nationwide – have risen faster than in the rest of the country. Kaiser Health News’ Jordan Rau takes a deeper look at the Utah college town in an effort to figure out why, despite recent efforts to bring everybody else down to Provo’s cost level, Provo seems to instead be climbing up to join its costlier cousins.


Provo, Utah (Photo by jpstanley via Flickr)

In Provo, the costs seem to come down to a few interlocking factors which should already be familiar to anyone who has investigated health care costs in the past. They include advancing technology and more aggressive treatment, all driven by an increase in the number of hospitals and clinics competing in the area. It’s a combination that’s looking increasing irresistible.

To some, it’s inevitable low cost areas such as Provo will catch up to their more expensive peers as a greater proportion of medical spending goes toward expensive machines and nursing salaries, which are rising, says Greg Poulson, senior vice president at Intermountain. Aggressive marketing of the latest technology also is making it more likely that patients everywhere are demanding the same novel treatments, even ones that aren’t proven to work better, Poulson says.

1 thought on “Blame aggressive treatment, tech for rising costs

  1. Wellescent Health Blog

    Patient demand for the newest technologies in medicine is an unfortunate spillover from the American consumer approach to health care. Medical providers spend money on the newest technologies in order to win market share and then spend money marketing their use of these technologies. Both of these costs are ultimately passed on to consumers and the cycle continues as it drives up costs. Somewhere in that loop, consumers need the equivalent of a Consumer’s Reports analysis to let them know if they are getting value for their money so that they can seek better value.

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