Chicago Health System Gets Low Score In National Report

Chicago may have hosted one of the most famous hospital-centric television shows of all time, but a new report suggests that the reality of health care provided to Windy City residents is far less rosy.

In an evaluation of local health systems' performance across the U.S. based on metrics that include access to care, prevention and treatment, costs, and health outcomes, Chicago was ranked 215th, trailing behind suburban areas and the state average, and in some cases falling far behind urban areas with comparable populations.

According to the study, conducted by the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, a health care research foundation, Boston, Philadelphia and Manhattan all came in ahead of Chicago. Our neighbor Milwaukee came in at 48th, in the top 16 percent of the 306 communities evaluated.

One of Chicago's biggest pitfalls identified by the study were commercial health insurance payouts and Medicare payments, which both registered averages far higher than the national median. Readmittance rates within a month for Medicare patients were measured at 25 percent, well above the 17.7 percent national average.

Chicago's rankings are “reflective of high costs, high rates of uninsured, very high rates of potentially preventable hospital admissions and low rates of preventative care such as screening for breast and colon cancer,” Cathy Schoen, a co-author of the report and a senior vice president at Commonwealth Fund, told Crain's Chicago.

While some north side suburbs received high marks, Chicago registered in the bottom half of all local areas overall, and in the bottom quartile for avoidable hospital use and cost, according to the report.