Study Shows Significant Variation in Costs, Quality and Access Across Communities

Healthcare access, cost, quality and outcomes can vary greatly from one community to the next, depending on the performance of the healthcare system available to residents, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System.

The report ranks local areas on 43 performance metrics grouped into categories that include access to healthcare, healthcare prevention and treatment, potentially avoidable healthcare utilization and cost and health outcomes. The report finds no community consistently leads on all factors, though there were geographic patterns.


For instance, local areas in the Northeast and Upper Midwest often ranked at the top, while local areas in the South, particularly the Gulf Coast and southern central states, tended to rank at the bottom on many measures. The report also showed wide variation within regions and states.

Healthcare spending also varied widely across the country. Private insurance spending per person in 2009, adjusted for wage differences, was nearly two-and-a-half times greater in the highest-cost areas — Charleston ($5,068) and Huntington ($5,042) in West Virginia and Wausau ($4,893) and Marshfield ($4,800) in Wisconsin — than in the lowest-cost areas of Honolulu ($2,014) in Hawaii and of Buffalo ($2,228) and Rochester ($2,319) in New York State.

Read the report, Rising to the Challenge: Results from a Scorecard on Local Health System Performance, 2012, in detail by clicking here.

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