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Health care for all. Changing the way health-care costs are administered could save money -- and lead to health insurance coverage for everyone, reports SPH Professor Alan Sager in a detailed new study.

The report, entitled "Massachusetts Can Afford Health Care for All," concludes that cutting administrative waste could free up fully 10 percent of today’s health-care spending. "In 1999 alone, Massachusetts caregivers would have had access to an additional $2.4 billion for actual care, and a savings of $1 billion overall," says Sager.

The analysis, prepared jointly with colleagues at Solutions for Progress, a Philadelphia consulting firm, estimated an additional cost of $1 billion to cover those currently uninsured and $2.8 billion to eliminate underinsurance -- gaps in coverage for such items as prescription drugs, dental care, and long-term home and nursing home care.

The researchers estimate that today more than a fifth of each health-care dollar is spent on administration. By reforming the system, they maintain, in 1999 alone Massachusetts could have eliminated half the administrative spending on health care -- a total of $3.6 billion -- and spent an additional $2.4 billion on actual health care, while still saving more than $1 billion in total health-care costs. The full report is available at

Eliminating online congestion. From the beginning the Internet was dubbed the "information superhighway," and very quickly users became stuck in massive traffic jams. Many solutions have been attempted, but the unprecedented growth of Internet use has continued to outpace technology’s ability to provide more bandwidth and speed the flow of information.

Now, a novel approach by College of Arts and Sciences Computer Science Associate Professors Azer Bestavros and Mark Crovella and Assistant Professor John Byers is harnessing the power of popular Internet servers to get the system back up to speed. Called MASS Servers (massively accessed scalable servers), they are the very servers that create the traffic that jams the system.

The MASS Servers Research Group, consisting of the three CAS faculty members, is developing three suites of software, named Beacon, TurnPike, and BackBay, that will interact to help eliminate congestion. Beacon is designed to observe and diagnose the condition of the network by tracing how the messages the server generates move throughout the system. Over time, Beacon will accumulate an understanding of the network’s dynamics, learning where and when congestion is likely to occur. TurnPike, a suite of management and control protocols, uses the diagnostic information generated by Beacon to plot alternate routes. Messages are redirected to less congested paths and departure times are scheduled for maximum efficiency. BackBay provides the architectural structure that allows Beacon and TurnPike to work together.

The work of the MASS Servers Research Group is supported by an National Science Foundation CISE/ANIR Special Projects in Networking Grant. Further information on this project and the MASS Servers Research Group is available at mass/.

"Research Briefs" is written by Joan Schwartz in the Office of the Provost. To read more about BU research, visit


15 May 2003
Boston University
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