Friday, March 19, 2010

What Wastes Money in the Healthcare System?

We spend 2.2 trillion dollars on health care in the U.S. each year. That figure comes from a recent CNN Money article. A gigantic figure no doubt...and also one that puts the current and projected national budget deficits in an interesting light (as in holy crap).

But, according to the same article, half of this amount may be wasted dollars. Hard to believe, but this is what was highlighted:

1. Doctor-ordered tests and procedures - There are too many of them and they cost the system 210 billion each year. Why are there too many tests? To defend against potential lawsuits. That's how the doctors see it, at least. And considering how litigious our society is, I have no doubt they're right.

2. The rigamarole of getting reimbursed by health insurance companies - Another 210 billion dollars. Apparently, all the forms and hoops that must be jumped through for doctors and hospitals to get paid...cost the system a lot of money. Which means it costs us extra money.

3. Using the emergency room for everything under the sun - If you've been to an ER in recent years, you know what I'm talking about. They're filled with people who are uninsured and don't have doctors. Meaning that the ER isn't really an ER in most respects. It's a doctor's waiting room for the poor and uninsured. With a very long waiting time. Cost to the system: an additional 14 billion (sounds like a bargain of an expense compared to the others).

I won't go into the remaining items of the list that, allegedly, drive up costs in the system. But I think it's pretty obvious after looking at reasons 1 and 2 that health insurance companies are highly implicated in this "situation" that may be turning into a national disaster in coming years. But, then, this is something that's been fairly apparent for many years. Lucky for us...we have the U.S. Congress watching our backs for us. [insert big laugh here]

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