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MedicareCosts 1stLd-Writethru 02-25 Web

Medicare costs vary by region

Medicare costs vary wildly across the country, according to a study that found the government paying twice as much for treating a patient in Miami as in San Francisco.

The dramatic cost differences don’t appear connected to climate or to who lives where, and people in the more expensive areas don’t get better care.

More expensive medical technology is only part of the picture, according to the report released Wednesday by the Dartmouth Atlas Project, which studies medical resources. The findings were being published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Technology doesn’t drive the growth in health care spending, people do," said Dr. Elliott Fisher, the lead study author and a medicine professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

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The study found that among the 25 largest hospital-referral regions, Manhattan was the costliest, at $12,114 per patient in 2006. Minneapolis was the least expensive, at $6,705 per patient.

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