U.S. healthcare system wastes up to $800 billion a year

Discussion in 'Economics' started by glennmm, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. glennmm


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. healthcare system is just as wasteful as President Barack Obama says it is, and proposed reforms could be paid for by fixing some of the most obvious inefficiencies, preventing mistakes and fighting fraud, according to a Thomson Reuters report released on Monday.

    The U.S. healthcare system wastes between $505 billion and $850 billion every year, the report from Robert Kelley, vice president of healthcare analytics at Thomson Reuters, found.

    "America's healthcare system is indeed hemorrhaging billions of dollars, and the opportunities to slow the fiscal bleeding are substantial," the report reads.

    "The bad news is that an estimated $700 billion is wasted annually. That's one-third of the nation's healthcare bill," Kelley said in a statement.

    "The good news is that by attacking waste we can reduce healthcare costs without adversely affecting the quality of care or access to care."

    One example -- a paper-based system that discourages sharing of medical records accounts for 6 percent of annual overspending.

    "It is waste when caregivers duplicate tests because results recorded in a patient's record with one provider are not available to another or when medical staff provides inappropriate treatment because relevant history of previous treatment cannot be accessed," the report reads.

    Some other findings in the report from Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Reuters:

    * Unnecessary care such as the overuse of antibiotics and lab tests to protect against malpractice exposure makes up 37 percent of healthcare waste or $200 to $300 a year.

    * Fraud makes up 22 percent of healthcare waste, or up to $200 billion a year in fraudulent Medicare claims, kickbacks for referrals for unnecessary services and other scams.

    * Administrative inefficiency and redundant paperwork account for 18 percent of healthcare waste.

    * Medical mistakes account for $50 billion to $100 billion in unnecessary spending each year, or 11 percent of the total.

    * Preventable conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes cost $30 billion to $50 billion a year.

    "The average U.S. hospital spends one-quarter of its budget on billing and administration, nearly twice the average in Canada," reads the report, citing dozens of other research papers.

    "American physicians spend nearly eight hours per week on paperwork and employ 1.66 clerical workers per doctor, far more than in Canada," it says, quoting a 2003 New England Journal of Medicine paper by Harvard University researcher Dr. Steffie Woolhandler

  2. spinn


    If most American drs were deported to Mexico, we would be healthier and not have either a debt or a deficit.

    of course...Mexico would really be pissed.
  3. Most of the waste has been legislated into the system for the benefit of trial lawyers.
  4. Other than the threat of malpractice lawsuits, none of the listed causes have anything to do with "legistated into the system for the benefit of trial lawyers".

    If doctors are so afraid of lawsuits, they shouldn't make so many mistakes.

    "Experts estimate that a staggering 98,000 people die from preventable medical errors each year. More Americans die each month of preventable medical injuries than died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    In addition, a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study concluded that 99,000 patients a year succumb to hospital-acquired infections. Almost all of those deaths, experts say, also are preventable."
  5. spinn


    finally someone gets it, if drs dont want to be sued, stop committing malpractice.

    drs kill more people than anything except alcohol and tobacco....
  6. another great waste of healthcare dollars:

    Americans Spend $34 Billion on Alternative Medicine
    11% of Out-of-Pocket Health Care Spending Goes to CAM

    By Salynn Boyles
    WebMD Health News

    Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
    July 30, 2009 -- Americans spend almost a third as much money out-of pocket on herbal supplements and other alternative medicines as they do on prescription drugs, a new government report shows.

    Out-of-pocket spending on herbal supplements, chiropractic visits, meditation, and other forms of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) was estimated at $34 billion in a single year.

    The estimate was based on responses to a national health survey conducted in 2007 by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

    "The bottom line is that Americans spend a lot of money on CAM products, classes, materials and practitioner visits," National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Director Josephine P. Briggs, MD, said in a media briefing today. "We estimate that this (represents) approximately 11% of the total out-of-pocket spending on health care."

  7. It's very easy to say that today, before the costs of designing, building and maintaining a robust system for sharing medical information are known.

    "Sharing" isn't free.
  8. Have you tried acupuncture or meditation? Both work very well.
  9. OK, then let us deport the trial lawyers to Mexico instead...
  10. Accupuncture MIGHT work for SOME issues...

    But calling alternative meds a waste is overkill. A LOT of medical procedures are wasted and have annoying to serious side effects on patients and SOME alternative practices (which includes hypnosis, massage therapy, accupuncture, chiro and other things) has SOME benefits. Most people who have taken strong Chamomile tea would realize the benefit when stressed or anxious.
    #10     Oct 26, 2009