Slowing the Growth of Health Care Costs

Lessons from Regional Variation

This article by researchers at the Dartmouth Atlas examines the rapid growth in health care costs in the United States and suggests the use of information from regions with low growth in costs to find solutions to the problem.

Key Findings:

  • Health care markets around the country have widely varying rates of health care cost increases, which lead to a wide range of annual costs across regions.
  • The variation between regions is largely due to how physicians respond to the availability of technology and services. Physicians in higher-cost regions appear more likely to refer patients for more extensive care without strong supportive evidence.
  • To curb rising health care costs, high-growth, high-cost regions must emulate low-growth, low-cost areas of the country. Policies that encourage the growth of organized systems of care and payment reform can help create a system where health care costs are better contained.

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