New Fund-Supported Studies in <em>Health Affairs</em>

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<p>The reasons why the United States tops the world in health spending and the unpredictability of Medicare beneficiaries' costs under the new Medicare drug benefit are the subjects of two new studies published today in the July/August issue of <em>Health Affairs.</em> Both studies were supported by The Commonwealth Fund.<UL>
<LI><a href="/publications/in-the-literature/2005/jul/health-spending-in-the-united-states-and-the-rest-of-the-industrialized-world
">Health Spending in the United States and the Rest of the Industrialized World,</a></em> by Gerard F. Anderson of Johns Hopkins University and colleagues, compares health spending in the United States with 30 industrialized nations. In seeking to explain why the U.S. spends 53 percent more on health care per capita than any other country, the researchers explore—and reject—two commonly proposed theories: that restricted supply in other countries has led to waiting lists and lower spending, and that the threat of litigation in the U.S. has resulted in high malpractice premiums and the practice of "defensive" medicine. The main culprit, the authors conclude, is higher prices for health services, such as prescription drugs, hospital stays, and doctor's visits.<br>  <br>
<LI><a href="/publications/in-the-literature/2005/jul/riding-the-rollercoaster--the-ups-and-downs-in-out-of-pocket-spending-under-the-standard-medicare-dr
">Riding the Rollercoaster: The Ups and Downs in Out-of-Pocket Spending Under the Standard Medicare Drug Benefit,</a> by Bruce Stuart of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and colleagues, examines the financial impact of the new Medicare prescription drug plan, known as Part D. Not only will beneficiaries sustain average out-of-pocket costs of 44 percent of their total drug spending over three years, but many will face dramatic changes in their medication costs from quarter to quarter as they ride the "benefit rollercoaster."</UL></p>