US Healthcare System Wastes $750 Billion a Year

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Important reminder from the Institute of Medicine that if we get smart about what our government insurance programs pay for, we might not have to ration health care at all. Unfortunately, the Republican Party does not want us to pay hospitals and providers based on what treatments are proven to work. They don’t even want to know what works:

The U.S. health care system squanders $750 billion a year , roughly 30 cents of every medical dollar , through unneeded care, byzantine paperwork, fraud and other waste, the influential Institute of Medicine said Thursday in a report that ties directly into the presidential campaign.

President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are accusing each other of trying to slash Medicare and put seniors at risk. But the counter-intuitive finding from the report is that deep cuts are possible without rationing, and a leaner system may even produce better quality.

“Health care in America presents a fundamental paradox,” said the report from an 18-member panel of prominent experts, including doctors, business people, and public officials. “The past 50 years have seen an explosion in biomedical knowledge, dramatic innovation in therapies and surgical procedures, and management of conditions that previously were fatal …

“Yet, American health care is falling short on basic dimensions of quality, outcomes, costs and equity,” the report concluded.


This entry was posted in Budget, Health.

2 Responses to US Healthcare System Wastes $750 Billion a Year

  1. phillydem says:

    Exactly the same point Kucinich made in one of the debates when he ran from prez 4 years ago in the Dem primary.

  2. I am delighted that this IOM report is causing such a huge amount of discussion about the runaway COSTS of healthcare. I am glad it also includes suggestions for how to improve the situation.

    One point that is rarely made in discussions about the spiraling cost of healthcare is the fact that there are, indeed, many treatments out there that are really effective AND inexpensive, in addition to having very few side effects. Yet, because these treatments are not yet the “standard of care,” and more specifically, are not manufactured by large pharmaceutical companies, doctors don’t routinely prescribe them. But thankfully, because of patient successes with these treatments, more and more doctors are beginning to prescribe them.

    I believe that these treatments could play a huge role in saving healthcare.

    In my book, HONEST MEDICINE: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases, I highlight examples of treatments like these.

    One of the treatments I write about in my book is Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), used off-label for 25 years by many doctors for autoimmune diseases, such as MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, etc. LDN costs $40 a month (maximum) through compounding pharmacies. (Naltrexone was approved in the mid-1980s by the FDA for another purpose—drug and alcohol addiction—at TEN TIMES THE DOSE that doctors are now using it off-label for autoimmune diseases.)

    On the other hand, the most commonly prescribed MS medications cost $2000-$4000 a month and have horrible side effects.

    I would like to see treatments like these (I call them “patient evidence-based” treatments) considered more often by doctors. In addition to helping thousands of patients who are not being helped now, they could save our healthcare system a huge amount of money.

    Thanks so much.
    Julia Schopick