Massachusetts attorney general releases report highlighting health care spending disparities

By Mark Iandolo | Oct 21, 2016

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced this week a report examining how health care spending is distributed in the commercial insurance market in Massachusetts shows that after controlling for health status, more money is spent on patients in higher income communities. 

“Health insurance is a commitment all of us make to share the financial burden when some of us get sick,” Healey said. “This report focuses on equity. It suggests we still have work to do when considering the fair allocation of health care dollars across our communities.” 

The report highlighted three major points of interest. Health care dollars are concentrated in higher income, healthier communities. The lowest levels of spending occur in the lowest income communities. And because the data is adjusted for health status, the higher spending on wealthier communities does not mean those communities are sicker, older or have more health needs. 

The report notes a multitude of factors could be driving spending disparities. Factors could include price differentiation between health care providers in different neighborhoods and structural and socioeconomic barriers preventing lower income residents from accessing proper health care. 

Additionally, the state’s current approach to setting health care insurance premiums leads to all taxpayers sharing not just the costs of caring for the sick but also the cost of certain members choosing more expensive providers.

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