Tip Sheets

Opportunities and Pitfalls of Spotlighting Regional Cost Differences (Patrick Romano)

Dr. Romano supplies caveats to those looking to interpret health care spending data.


Patrick Romano, M.D., M.P.H., visiting fellow, Center for Studying Health System Change; professor of medicine and pediatrics, University of California, Davis School of Medicine

PDF of presentation

Panel description: 

For decades, journalists have relied on tools such as the Dartmouth Atlas to write about areas of the country with excessive spending and overtreatment, bolstering the Mayo Clinic’s reputation and taking down McAllen, Texas. The White House and Congress are looking to put this academic analysis into Medicare policy that would penalize high-spending areas. But concerns also are increasing. Would reining in high-spending areas hurt patient care? Do Medicare spending disparities reflect the entire health care market? Is end-of-life spending a fair or fallacious way to judge medical efficiency?