Last Modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 6:02 PM
A recent report about inefficiencies, fraud and waste in this nation’s health care system surely will elevate taxpayers’ blood pressure.
The Institute of Medicine’s study indicates that 30 cents of every dollar devoted to health care in the United States is wasted or a needless expenditure.
That adds up to $750 billion annually, enough to care for the uninsured in this country and more than the 10 years of Medicare Cuts in President Obama’s health care law.
‘‘... American health care if falling short on basic dimensions of quality, outcomes, costs and equity,’’ the report said.
The study notes that advances in medical care have reduced many conditions that were previously fatal. But it criticized the pace of some care, the lack of communication between physicians and treatment facilities and the wide variation in medical prices.
As an example, the report said that if home building were like health care in America, ‘‘carpenters, electricians and plumbers would work from different blueprints and hardly talk to each other.’’
The 18-month study conducted by an 18-member panel of doctors, business people and public officials, broke down the waste in six major areas: $210 billion for unnecessary services, $190 billion for excess administrative, $130 billion for inefficient delivery of care, $105 billion for inflated prices, $75 billion for fraud and $55 billion for prevention failures.
‘‘We have a lot of medical care that is not helpful to patients, and some of it is harmful,’’ said Dr. Rita Redberg, a medical school professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
She said that when the subject of getting rid of any type of health care arises there follows charges of rationing.
‘‘ The good news is that the very common notion that quality will suffer if less money is spent is simply not true,’’ said Dr. Mark Smith, president of the California HealthCare Foundation.
Members of the study group said a drive started earlier this year, ‘‘Choosing Wisely’’ provides a guide for reducing some costs. The report said the heart of the reform should deal with payments, both of the part of the employer, who should demand more accountability from medical groups and hospitals, and for doctors, who should embrace more collaboration with their colleagues and clinicians.
The issue is front and center in the current presidential campaign and many congressional races. It shouldn’t be reduced to a 30-second commercial or 15-second sound bite.
Controlling health care costs is a complex issue. The solutions for solving one of the biggest challenges in the federal budget should be equally as thorough.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.