We Can’t Afford the Status Quo

Everyone knows that waste is costing us. My teachers in nursing school, my employers, the patients. We all try to be careful, but it’s like bailing with a teacup when there’s a hole in the bottom of the boat.

The fundamental problem is that health care in America is not a public good with the patient at the center. It’s a Wild West with big profits to be made by the most ruthless, and then a system of regulation and liability to try to equalize things after the fact. And people don’t get on the bad side of this until they are at their most vulnerable–when they’re sick.

I hope that Crooks and Liars will forgive me for posting a big hunk of this article, but it needs to be seen. Here’s from the Thomson Reuters report on wasteful spending in the US health care ‘system’…

“The bad news is that an estimated $700 billion is wasted annually. That’s one-third of the nation’s healthcare bill. The good news is that by attacking waste, healthcare costs can be reduced without adversely affecting the quality of care or access to care. That’s the point of this report – to identify areas in the healthcare system that can generate game-changing savings.”

Those game-changing savings, TR found, could be found across a broad range of health care spending. Between $600 billion and $850 billion, it estimated, is wasted on:

* Unnecessary Care (40% of healthcare waste): Unwarranted treatment, such as the over-use of antibiotics and the use of diagnostic lab tests to protect against malpractice exposure, accounts for $250 billion to $325 billion in annual healthcare spending.
* Fraud (19% of healthcare waste): Healthcare fraud costs $125 billion to $175 billion each year, manifesting itself in everything from fraudulent Medicare claims to kickbacks for referrals for unnecessary services.
* Administrative Inefficiency (17% of healthcare waste): The large volume of redundant paperwork in the U.S healthcare system accounts for $100 billion to $150 billion in spending annually.
* Healthcare Provider Errors (12% of healthcare waste): Medical mistakes account for $75 billion to $100 billion in unnecessary spending each year.
* Preventable Conditions (6% of healthcare waste): Approximately $25 billion to $50 billion is spent annually on hospitalizations to address conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes, which are much less costly to treat when individuals receive timely access to outpatient care.
* Lack of Care Coordination (6% of healthcare waste): Inefficient communication between providers, including lack of access to medical records when specialists intervene, leads to duplication of tests and inappropriate treatments that cost $25 billion to $50 billion annually.

I can vouch for the redundant paperwork. I’d rather empty a bedpan than do insurance paperwork. They’re both unpleasant and necessary tasks, but if I was any good at office work I’d be making big bucks as a secretary. When I help a patient use a bedpan I’m checking for pressure ulcers and other complications. When I fill out some of these forms I’m duplicating what has probably already been done a dozen times but the information didn’t follow the patient. I don’t mind working, I just mind stupid work. I want to use my documentation time for real information about the health of the patient.

Waste and stupidity are killing people.

Are you ready to come out for better health for America? This is a crucial time, we can get a mess of sausage or a real reform bill. Make your voice heard.

Please join us for a rally for healthcare reform
Thursday, Oct. 29th at 5:00 p.m.
on the steps of the Providence City Hall.

Take the bus and avoid the traffic jam, good friends will be there.

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One response

  1. When I worked for a certain large nonprofit healthcare corporation in RI (I won’t mention any names) I counted once that I had to write the patient’s name 35 times or more in order to fill out the initial medical record. I’ve heard they have since finally updated, but I bet it’s still wasteful.

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