As the firestorm over skyrocketing health-care costs heats up in Congress, New Yorkers – and others across the tri-state area – are feeling the impact more than most.
The Bronx and Manhattan are the third and fourth most expensive places for health care in the country, with Medicare spending per enrollee up about $5,000 in each borough since the early 1990s, according to Forbes.
Forbes analyzed Medicare data from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Cultural Practice to determine the 40 most costly locations for health care.
Tri-state locales account for more than a fifth of the 40 priciest places in the country – and politicians across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are holding frequent town halls to address residents' concerns about the health-care debate in Washington and how it might impact what happens at home.
Competition usually stimulates markets, but that's not the case with health care. High rates of uninsured patients, a plethora of professionals and services and concerns about medical malpractice combine to create quite a conundrum: Higher costs that don't necessarily yield better outcomes.
"When supply increases, as it often does in major metropolitan and suburban areas where medical school graduates are many and hospitals compete for business, demand increases as well, driving up the cost," according to Forbes writer Rebecca Ruiz. "Add to that payment schemes that encourage overuse and covering the tab for treating the uninsured, among other factors, and it becomes clear why health care is more expensive than ever."
Here are the nine tri-state areas that fall on Forbes' list:
No. 3 -- Bronx, N.Y.
No. 4 -- Manhattan, N.Y.
No. 7 -- East Long Island, N.Y.
No. 9 -- Newark, N.J.
No. 15 -- Paterson, N.J.
No. 17 -- Hackensack, N.J.
No. 25 -- White Plains, N.Y.
No. 26 -- New Haven, Conn.
No. 32 -- Ridgewood, N.J.
Rounding out the top five most costly places for health care in the country are Miami, Fla. (No. 1), McAllen, Texas (No. 2) and Harlingen, Texas (No. 5).
New federal health-care legislation will attempt to address many of the problems plaguing the system as a whole, but New Yorkers concerned about high costs would do well to pay attention.
"What goes on nationally will definitely impact what goes on locally," Miami University professor Steven G. Ullmann told Forbes.