Eight of 10 U.S. Cities With Highest Physician Prices in Wisconsin, GAO Report Finds
Eight of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest prices for physician services are located in Wisconsin, according to a report released last week by the Government Accountability Office, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports.
For the report, requested in 2002 by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and former Rep. Tom Barrett (D-Wis.), GAO examined claims paid in 2001 to 2.1 million federal employees who were younger than age 65 and enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and ranked 232 metropolitan areas by hospital prices and 319 by physician prices. GAO adjusted the results to account for differences in rents and wages between smaller and larger cities.
The report found that La Crosse, Wis., had the highest physician prices, with prices 48% higher than average, followed by three other Wisconsin cities -- Wassau, with prices 46% higher than average; Eau Claire with prices 42% higher than average; and Madison, with prices 41% higher than average. According to the report, higher prices in large resulted from weak competition and the inability of HMOs to pay hospitals and physicians flat fees, which help to control costs (Nakashima, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/15).
Physician and clinical services accounted for 22% of health care spending in the U.S. in 2003, compared with 31% for hospital care, according to CMS (Romell, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/14).