Study: South GA health cost not unusual - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Study: South GA health cost not unusual

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December 5, 2007

Albany-  Complaints about the high cost of health care in south Georgia may be silenced by a study that shows health care costs are below average.

The study commissioned by the city, County, and Economic and Development Commission found south Georgia's health care rates are 16 percent below the national average.

A $60,000 study that analyzed health care costs for nine area groups concludes that Albany's costs are below both the state and the national averages and several other cities they compared to Albany.

"We're looking from the top down at the health care costs in this area, at the health care costs for different groups we have not delved into the detail," said Tim Harris Principal and Consulting Actuary for Milliman.

That's what Procter and Gamble was hoping for, some details that might spell out why their costs according to this report are 28 percent higher than expected.

"It reinforces what we've been saying, what we've known from day one that at P&G our health care costs are unacceptable and they're more than they should be and this kind of backed that up," said Vince Falcione, P&G.

P&G has pointed the finger at Phoebe Putney Health Systems but hospital representative say this report is not only good news for them, but for economic development.

"The time for finger pointing has really gone by. We understand from these national experts, who look at this very complex question and they see Albany as a very positive area for health care costs," said Frank Middleton, Phoebe Putney Sr. V.P. Administration.

The report did find consistently high outpatient costs for all but one of the nine groups and five of the groups were worse in overall claim costs for 2006, Phoebe Putney and Procter and Gamble being the worst.

"It doesn't mean we don't have work to do, it's a nationwide problem," said Middleton.

While there are stop gap measures that were recommended to companies Wednesday, like smoking cessation programs and wellness reinforcement, even the study experts say until politicians get involved, health care costs will continue to climb.

Procter and Gamble wants to compare the results of this study with other findings on Albany health care costs.

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