The number of visits made to specialists by Medicare beneficiaries in the last two years of life varies significantly by state
July 01, 2012
SOURCE: The Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, State-level data on care of chronically ill patients during the last two years of life. Compiled by PGPF. NOTE: Figures are averages over the 2003-2007 period.
One of the most striking aspects of the American health care system is the variation in the way medicine is practiced from region to region. In Florida, the average Medicare beneficiary will visit a physician specialist 38 times in the last two years of life — more than once a month. By contrast, the average Minnesota Medicare beneficiary sees a specialist 13 times in the last two years of his or her life — roughly once every other month.
Since utilization in the last years of life varies so dramatically from state to state, many experts believe that some of these specialist visits are excessive — that they do not improve health outcomes and serve only to drive up spending.
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