A quarter of employers now offer only high-deductible insurance plans to their employees, and another quarter are thinking of following suit. The US is rapidly becoming a high out-of-pocket healthcare system, often with disastrous results. Consider what happened to Chris Howard after he saw the water in his toilet bowl turn bright red.
Howard (a pseudonym) figured it was probably from a hemorrhoid, but a colonoscopy test uncovered a Stage 3 cancer that had already begun invading the wall of his intestines. At the ripe young age of 38, Howard found himself face-to-face with a life-threatening illness.
To read the rest of this article, please visit Forbes.
It is well known that Medicare expenditures threaten the financial solvency of the U.S. government. And it is pretty well agreed upon that some of our Medicare spending goes towards wasteful medical care.
A study in JAMA Internal Medicine provides a sneak peek at answers to these important questions. The research, led by Aaron Schwartz , a graduate student at Harvard, focused on interventions that medical experts deem to provide little or no health benefit. For example, the Choosing Wisely campaign, promoted by medical societies, has concluded that testing people’s lung function prior to low and intermediate-risk surgeries does not improve surgical outcomes. Similarly, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has concluded that colon cancer screenings yield more harms than benefits for elderly patients.
The researchers explored how often Medicare beneficiaries received unnecessary services like this, a list of 26 tests or procedures that medical experts have deemed to be unnecessary. The worse culprit, financially speaking, was stenting (propping open) coronary arteries for people with stable heart disease, which by one of their estimates leads to almost $3 billion per year of wasted Medicare spending. Close behind was another cardiology procedure, stress testing for patients with stable heart disease, which triggered over $2 billion of unnecessary spending. Toss in $200 million per year for unnecessary back imaging, another $200 million for unnecessary imaging tests to evaluate headaches, and the researchers uncovered over $8 billion of Medicare waste, for just these 26 interventions. (To read the rest of the article and leave comments, please visit Forbes.)