Private insurer spending less varied than Medicare

January 25, 2011

Medicare spending varied widely in two similar Texas cities, while private insurers showed little variation in the younger than 65 population, according to research.

Medicare spending varied widely in two similar Texas cities, while private insurers showed little variation in the younger than 65 population, according to researchers from University of Texas Health Science Center and Dartmouth College.

Their study, published in the December issue of Health Affairs, examined 2008 claims data from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, the state's largest commercial health insurer.

For the under 65 population insured by Blue Cross, total spending per-member-year in McAllen, Texas, was 7% lower than in El Paso, Texas. By contrast, Medicare spending in McAllen was 63% higher than in El Paso for inpatient care, 32% higher for outpatient care, and 65% higher for Part B professional services.