AUSTIN, Texas – AUSTin Public Health officials are working to ensure Austin has the best health care system in the state.
Public health officials say the city is one of just a few cities in Texas that have an “A” rating from the Association of American Health Plans, which means the city has some of the lowest costs for health care coverage.
But it also has one the highest rates of hospitalization.AARP, the trade group for the American Medical Association, says Austin is among the lowest in the nation for overall hospitalization, spending per capita on medical care and the average amount of out-of-pocket expenses for people with low incomes.
It also ranks Austin as one of only a handful of cities in the country that has no hospital emergency room and does not have a single primary care physician.
Austin’s Public Health Department said Thursday that a series of steps are underway to help ensure the city remains the best in the U.S. in the areas of health care access, quality and cost.
It includes an overhaul of its electronic health record system, an increase in the number of public health officers and a review of its health insurance plan.
In a recent report, AARP said Austin is one-fifth the size of Detroit and has one-quarter the number, and the most people, of the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.AAPM recommends Austin as a place to live if you’re looking for a place where you can get the best care, health care for less money, access to health insurance, and quality health care.
In its latest survey, AAMI-Sylvia, the health insurance and advocacy group for health plans, found that Austin’s public health system ranks No. 5 among the nation’s largest in quality of care and has the lowest number of people needing emergency room care.
But while AAMI says Austin has a number of advantages, such as its high-quality hospital system, AHP has said its system is among its weakest in comparison to other major cities.
It said in a statement to TalkSPORT that AHP’s quality of patient care is improving, but the rate of hospitalizations in Austin has remained high.
AHP also says it’s making improvements, including expanding emergency rooms and creating a new online portal to get more information about health insurance options.
In November, Austin also surpassed the state average for number of new health care visits, a trend that will likely continue as AHP moves ahead with a plan to expand coverage in 2018.
In the past five years, Austin’s rate of emergency room visits has dropped by 8.9 percent.AHP spokesman Ryan Janssen said the hospitalization rate is an important indicator of how well Austin’s health care network is doing.
He said AHP is also working to improve access to care, including a plan it launched this summer to create an electronic health records system.
That system will help prevent hospitals from denying coverage based on a patient’s medical history, he said.
He noted that AHI, the insurance company for Austin residents, has been involved in the city’s efforts to improve care, adding that its system provides a range of health coverage options for residents.AAMI- Sylvia says Austin ranked No. 6 in the states in terms of health costs in 2017.
The AARP report also ranks the city No. 1 for the number and quality of health benefits residents get in addition to health outcomes, including life expectancy, disability and access to preventive care.