Monday, October 5, 2009

Too Much Care?

In the past couple of weeks health care writers have been warning about the pitfalls of too much care. Maybe they are priming the pump for the potential of healthcare rationing in the future? More likely they are revealing one of the areas that gets little attention but results in a lot of unnecessary expense.

A Washington Post article, In Delivering Care, More Isn't Always Better, Experts Say, explores the unnecessary care delivered each year. According to a 2008 report by New England Healthcare Institute, wasted expenditures total over $700 Billion every year.

The Wall Street Journal also addressed this issue recently: Getting Well: It's About Time. While we don't want patients to avoid necessary care, in many cases patients will get better own their own. For example, Americans spend approximately $1 billion every year on unnecessary antibiotics for viral infections. These antibiotics don't treat the illness and lead to antibiotic resistance.

The savings opportunities are large and they are real. However, it is unlikely we will achieve savings in this area unless we give consumers the incentives and education they need to make value based healthcare decisions.

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