Medicare Spending in Tucson: A Bargain

Medicare spending is lower in Tucson than in most other parts of the country. Medicare spending per enrollee in Tucson was $7,684 in 2007, while the national average was $8,682. This information comes from the Dartmouth Project which studies Medicare data and identifies trends that can be used in making policies.

Tucson may catch up to the rest of the nation because Medicare spending here  is growing faster (5.2% per year) than the national average (4.7%)

Phoenix is a more expensive place for Medicare as spending was $8,230 per enrollee in 2007 and is growing at a rate of 6% per year.

Kaiser Health News has an interactive map that provides these numbers throughout the country. Here are some examples of how Tucson and Phoenix compare to other locations.

  Spending per enrollee per yr Growth rate
Tucson $ 7,684 5.2%
Phoenix $ 8,230 6%
Ft Lauderdale, FL $10,365 4.3%
Connecticut $ 9,222 4.6%
Long Island, NY $11,399 3.4%
New Mexico $ 6,851 5.4%
Eugene, OR $6,370 4.2%

This information is important because payments from Medicare to Medicare Advantage plans are based on these numbers.  Over 45% of Medicare beneficiaries in Tucson and Phoenix are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, and  payments to Advantage plans were not  increased last year and will remain at the same level for 2011 – despite 5-6% increases in costs in each of the the last three years.

The formula for payments to Medicare Advantage plans is supposed to favor lower-cost locations. Hopefully Tucson will get a break for its lower cost to Medicare and for its high enrollment numbers (45%) in Medicare Advantage.  We’ll find out in October.

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2 Responses to "Medicare Spending in Tucson: A Bargain"

  1. Does Medicare always cover the patient. Garuantee 100% of every patient?

  2. medicareblogger says:

    Medicare has deductibles and 20% co-insurance for Part B services such as doctor visits, labs, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.  Medicare can refuse to pay some bills, but patients are not required to get approval from Medicare before getting medical services.

    Medicare Advantag plans, which are run by insurance companies, do require enrollees to get approval for hospitalization (except in an emergency) and for many services such as MRIs.

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