Study: US healthcare system wastes $800 billion a year
This study from the healthcare analysis unit of Thomson Reuters has a high degree of truthiness, it seems to confirm what many Americans intuitively think and believe:
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.
Me: In one way this does confirm what Democrats have been saying, that it is possible to cut spending without hurting quality. Getting at the waste and inefficiency is tough, though. Obamacrats seems to have scant interest in tort reform. And one reason that Medicare has low administrative costs is that it doesn’t make the same effort as private insurance companies to go after fraud. And doing IT reform over such a large and complex system is already proving difficult and is some cases making patient care worse.