By Annie Feidt, APRN - Anchorage | December 28, 2011
The Alaska Health Care Commission just released a series of reports that try to understand why health care costs so much more in Alaska. One important finding is that the cost for specialty care is much higher here than in other parts of the country.
The commission reports compare costs in Alaska to states in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and two low population states, Wyoming and North Dakota. On average primary care doctors and pediatricians charge about 40 percent more in Alaska. But with some specialists, that number rises to 80 percent or more. Dr. Ward Hurlburt chairs the commission and is also the director of the division of public health.
“The difference in pricing has been a significant finding,” Hurlburt said. “I think we all know intuitively, if you go to the doctor, hospital or emergency room, but to have that documented is impressive.”
The fees for some common procedures can be 4-5 times higher than in the comparison states. In Cardiology, for example, a left heart catheterization costs about $2,200 in Alaska and only 400 in Washington. In orthopedics, a knee surgery costs $6,400 in Alaska and only $1,700 in Washington. Hurlburt says some of that higher cost can be attributed to the fact that everything costs more in Alaska, but not all….
(If Doctors and hospitals were paid 40% more by Medicare/Medicaid in Hawaii, HMC would not be bankrupt. It is a matter of paying for and providing quality coverage to the truly needy instead of expanding eligibility to provide lousy coverage ‘free’ to more people.)
read … Medicare Reimbursements
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