Robert Town, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, High-Cost Care
Robert Town is quoted in a major Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article exploring the unusually high costs of some hospital care in its region of Wisconsin.
Town, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Health Care Management at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and an LDI Senior Fellow.
According to a 2014 GAO study, Milwaukee has some of the country's highest health care costs. A total hip replacement costs up to $11,000 more in that city's hospitals than in those of Minneapolis, Boston, Cleveland or St. Louis. Similarly, placement of a coronary stent costs up to $13,000 more in Milwaukee than in most other markets.
The newspaper said the variation in prices is driven by how much bargaining power health systems in any specific region have in their negotiations with health plans.
Town told the newspaper that hospitals regularly try "to do what's best for their systems, and getting more money from the insurer is best for the system."
The Journal-Sentinel reported that the "Milwaukee area has five health systems that provide care for adults, and theoretically competition should drive prices closer to costs. But that will happen only if certain conditions are met, such as easy entry into a business and freely available information on prices."
But, Town noted, "Those things aren't present in the health care market."