Study finds which states use the most low-value care

Alabama, Hawaii, Florida, New York and New Jersey are the states with the highest incidences of low-value care, a new study published in Health Affairs found. 

Researchers from Tufts University in Medford, Mass., analyzed OptumLabs data from 2009 to 2019 for commercially insured and Medicare Advantage recipients to determine which states had the highest utilization rates for 23 common low-value care services. 

Low-value care is defined as services that provide little clinical benefit or cause more harm than benefit for a patient. The most common low-value service nationwide was cancer screenings past the recommended age, the study found. 

Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Delaware, Maine and Michigan had the lowest rates of utilization of low-value care services. 

Wasteful spending on low-value care services added up to $3.7 billion across all 50 states and Washington, D.C, from 2009 to 2019, the study found. 

Prices varied widely across states, the authors found, with variations in the cost of healthcare services contributing more to the overall amount spent on low-value care than the rate of utilization. 

"High prices may explain why some states, such as Alaska, are top spenders compared with other states, despite being in the bottom 10 percent for overall low-value care use," the authors wrote. 

Read the full study here. 

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