Regional Supply of Medical Resources and Systemic Overuse of Health Care Among Medicare Beneficiaries

Mo Zhou, Allison H. Oakes, John F.P. Bridges, William V. Padula, Jodi B. Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Abstract: Background: Overuse of health care resources has been identified as the leading contributor to waste in the US health care system. Objective: To explore health care system factors associated with regional variation in systemic overuse of health care resources as measured by the Johns Hopkins Overuse Index (JHOI) which aggregates systemic overuse of 20 health care services. Design: Using Medicare fee-for-service claims data from beneficiaries age 65 or over in 2008, we calculated the JHOI for the 306 hospital referral regions in the United States. We used ordinary least squares regression and multilevel models to estimate the association of JHOI scores and characteristics of regional health care delivery systems listed in the Area Health Resource File and Dartmouth Atlas. Key Results: Regions with a higher density of primary care physicians had lower JHOI scores, indicating less systemic overuse (P < 0.001). Regional characteristics associated with higher JHOI scores, indicating more systemic overuse, included number per 1000 residents of acute care hospital beds (P = 0.002) and of hospital-based anesthesiologists, pathologists, and radiologists (P = 0.02). Conclusions: Regional variations in health care resources including the clinician workforce are associated with the intensity of systemic overuse of health care. The role of primary care doctors in reducing health care overuse deserves further attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2127-2131
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Medicare
  • health care infrastructure
  • overuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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