Hospital treatment cost -v- mortality rate

Welcome to the blog Mrs Price, a graph for you:

 

Hospital treatment cost v Mortality rate

 

The Source is a paper based upon data collected over the past two centuries on mortality and costs incurred at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Broadly speaking one can describe three periods:

  • Until 1910, there were flat costs with year-to-year variation in inpatient mortality determined more by world events and epidemics than by the quality of care.
  • Then until 1960 or so value increased modestly with the introduction of novel high-impact therapies, such as penicillin and other antibiotics.
  • For the rest of the 20th century research became industrialized, with complex diagnostics and therapeutics to address an expanding array of diseases discovered and introduced: it now became worthwhile to spend more on health care. In this period, each extra $1,000/patient (2010 dollars) spent on hospital treatment led to 2.4 extra patients being discharged alive for every 1,000 admitted (~$400k to save a life).

Here’s an earlier article looking at health care costs compared to live expectancy which suggest the US health care system is less efficient than that of other countries.

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Healthcare expenditure -v- life expectancy

A smart way to reduce the risk of confusing correlation with causation, especially when comparing different countries, is to plot the two variables of interest over time.

Here’s a nice example, showing that it’s likely the US has a less efficient healthcare system than other rich countries, and that the low life expectancy is not due to other confounding variables (e.g., having a higher homicide rate – something which has actually decreased over the time period shown).

More here by Lane Kenworthy