Healthcare professionals play an essential role in society because they treat the sick, assess risk factors, advise the public against unhealthy behaviors, and mitigate outbreaks, among other roles. Jobs in healthcare include pharmacy and surgical technicians, sonographers, doctors, and nurses. A shortage of health workers in one sector makes the available care providers overworked, leading to mistakes or overlooking critical health issues. This was the case in the Milwaukee area, which faced a decline in people willing to work in healthcare.1 The county, alongside other stakeholders, formed a pivotal program to encourage more people to study and work in health care. The Center for Healthcare Careers of Southern Wisconsin was created by Employ Milwaukee supported by five health systems, including Aurora Health Care, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert Health, and Wheaton Franciscan.1 The aim of supporting the new center was to facilitate training in different healthcare fields, including food service, medical assistants, physical therapists, certified nursing assistants, and registered nurses. The Center for Healthcare Careers graduates are assured of work because of the county’s high demand for healthcare professionals.
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Healthcare Costs Drivers in Wisconsin
Understanding healthcare cost drivers help determine if people visit hospitals when sick. Expensive hospital services mainly affect middle and low-income families who cannot afford medical insurance. One healthcare cost driver is pricing failure, where costs are divided into medication, payer-based health services, and laboratory-based and ambulatory prices.2 Many hospitals lack pricing transparency, leading to overcharging of services to the insurance. Fraud and abuse lead to more misuse of healthcare funds. For instance, an analysis focusing on the Medicare population revealed that $58.5 billion to $83.9 billion is lost annually due to fraudulent activities.2 The age of the population is also an important aspect considered in healthcare. An older population causes an increase in hospital costs because of the demand for health services such as physicians and pharmaceuticals.2 The high demand due to the aging population strains the available healthcare resources, leading to increased costs.
The misuse and overuse of medical services such as unnecessary tests and procedures drive up healthcare costs without noticeable health outcomes. The overuse of health services leads to a strain of resources, which could increase medical errors and preventable mistakes that also add to the healthcare costs. For instance, overtreatment and low-quality care waste around $75.7 to 101.2 billion, while lack of preventative practices, clinical inefficiencies, and hospital-acquired conditions costs $102.4 billion to $165.7 billion.2 The severity of a disease, type of care received, and duration of the treatment are also significant factors determining healthcare costs.
Average Cost of a Stay in a Hospital in the Milwaukee Area
The hospitals in Milwaukee are ranked as the most expensive in the country. For instance, in 2016, the national average for knee arthroscopy that treats torn ligament with surgery was $14,257, while it cost an average of $21,635 in the Milwaukee area.3 The price difference shows that Milwaukee healthcare services are higher than the national average. Another example is childbirth, which averages $12,485 nationally for vaginal delivery, but the same service averages $16,750 in the Milwaukee area, ranging between $14,333 and $18,722 hospital charges.3 The medical services costs vary depending on the severity of the disease and hospital stay duration. However, the prices for common healthcare services were 81% higher in Wisconsin than the national average.3 The pricing information also depends on the healthcare plans, age, and location within the Milwaukee area.
- Boulton G. Five health systems to collaborate to build workforce. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 2016. Web.
- Shrank WH, Rogstad TL, Parekh N. Waste in the US health care system estimated costs and potential for savings. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2019;322(15):1501-1509. Web.
- Boulton G. Wisconsin second-highest for medical prices. Post Crescent. 2016. Web.