Americans pay more, get less for health care

Americans spend considerably more money on health care services than any other industrialized nation, but the increased expenditure does not buy more care, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They found that the United States spent 44 percent more on health care than Switzerland, the nation with the next highest per capita health care costs, in the year 2000. At the same time, Americans had fewer physician visits and hospital stays were shorter compared to most other industrialized nations. The study suggests that the difference in spending is caused mostly by higher prices for health care goods and services in the United States. The results are published in the May/June 2003, edition of the journal Health Affair.

Managed care plans generally refer patients with pain symptoms to specialists

Primary care physicians under a managed care system were more likely to refer patients to a pain specialist than other physicians were, according to a University of Washington study. The findings run contrary to common beliefs that managed care systems limit access to specialists in order to save money. But if that was true before, it is not true now, according to the findings, which are being published in the February issue of Health Services Research.