Snapshot of state health spending yields some surprises

The Wall Street Journal and Louise Radnofsky did a nice package of interactive graphics and maps on state health spending. As Radnofsky noted, the high spenders are in the Northeast – but not only the Northeast. They are some rural states – but not all rural states. And Florida is up there.

It’s a fun and useful tool that gives you a snapshot of your state – and let you compare it with neighboring states or states with similar demographics.

But if you follow the work of the Dartmouth Atlas folks you’ll also know that spending doesn’t just vary by state – it varies by county, city – sometimes even neighborhood. Payment incentives is part – but only part – of the story. (They don’t explain why two hospitals in Manhattan may have such different utilization patterns, for instance). Local practice patterns, training, traditions, patient demographics all play a role.

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