Medicare beneficiaries who receive more care under the program don't necessarily end up in better health, according to a study in today's Annals of Internal Medicine. In general, beneficiaries in regions with the highest per-capita spending at the end of life received 60% more care than beneficiaries in the lowest-spending regions, but three measures of quality -- mortality over five years, functional status and patient satisfaction -- were comparable between the groups, researchers said. The study focused on care for colorectal cancer, hip fracture and heart attacks from 1993 to 1995. If the U.S. as a whole could safely achieve spending levels equal to those of the lowest-spending regions, Medicare could reduce its costs by 30%, the researchers said. "Efforts to reduce spending should proceed with caution, but policies to better manage further spending growth are warranted," they concluded. Obtain the article online. -- by Jeff Tieman
More services don't yield better outcomes: study
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