Amitabh Chandra, a professor of public policy and director of health policy research at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Maurice A. Dalton, a survey data specialist at the National Bureau of Economic Research; and Jonathan Holmes, a research fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government said identifying policies that reduce or constrain healthcare spending and spending growth dominates reform efforts.
Yet little is known about whether the drivers of spending levels and of spending growth are the same. For example, policies that produce a one-time reduction in the level of spending, by making hospitals more efficient, might do little to reduce subsequent annual spending growth, the researchers said.
To identify factors causing healthcare spending to grow the fastest, the researchers focused on three conditions in the Medicare population: heart attacks, congestive heart failure and hip fractures.
The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found from 1994 to 2009 the average spending for post acute care doubled for patients with hip fractures, more than doubled for those with congestive heart failure and more than tripled for those with heart attacks.
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