You may be surprised to hear that elective surgery in the United States varies greatly based on where you live, and which doctors they are seeing according to the article “When it Comes to Elective Surgery, Where You Live Matters” on Kaiser Health News. A recent study from Reuters finds a large regional variation in the treatment Medicare patients receive, primarily in elective surgeries.
The study looked at elective surgeries for patients over the age of 65 using Medicare and found a large regional difference in the way doctors and US doctors are treating patients. As an example from the report, a Medicare recipient in Victoria, Texas who has early breast cancer is 7 times more likely to have a full mastectomy than a woman living in Muncie, Indiana. This drastic difference in treatment options can affect prices in health insurance as well.
There are even sharp variations within various states. Minnesota has large differences in elective surgeries from in-state region to region. Heart patients in Detroit Lakes are twice as likely to have arterial bypasses and men in Bemidji are 3 times more likely to have enlarged prostates removed. The study by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health care thinks doctors may be neglecting patients’ preferences and basing surgeries on other factors which can have bad long term effects on health care overall.