If you thought your hard earned money was going somewhere worthwhile, think again. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine shows that roughly 30 cents of every dollar the government funnels toward health care is wasted on things like unnecessary care, paperwork and other areas of general waste.
What does this mean exactly? For starters, it means $750 billion goes down the drain annually while many are left uninsured and without care. This news comes at a peak time of interest as the presidential campaign is approaching its climax.
Wether you side with democratic or republican views on the health care issue, no one can deny that it’s an important topic that affects everyone in our country. However, this report – which comes from a panel comprised of 18 respected expert doctors, business people and public officials – suggests that perhaps we need to focus more on creating an efficient health care system rather than where we should ration and reallocate funds.
As reported by the Washington Post, the reported stated that “Health care in America presents a fundamental paradox. The past 50 years have seen an explosion in biomedical knowledge, dramatic innovation in therapies and surgical procedures, and management of conditions that previously were fatal…Yet, American health care is falling short on basic dimensions of quality, outcomes costs and equity.”
The primary areas of waste as identified by the report include unnecessary services, accounting for $210 billion annually; inefficient delivery of care accounting for $130 billion; excess administrative costs ($190 billion); inflated prices ($105 billion); prevention failures ($55 billion); and fraud ($75 billion).
It’s no secret that the larger a government grows the more sluggish it becomes, meaning more time and money spent on issues that would’ve otherwise required less resources. While 30 cents may not sound like a great amount, when it adds up to $750 a year we have a big problem on our hands. That amount is especially concerning as it’s arguably more than enough to provide care for the uninsured in our nation.
As for what President Barack Obama and Romney think we should do to resolve the issue, the two have different ideas, naturally. Obama believes we should focus on making cuts in payments to service providers and pay doctors and hospitals on a rewards basis instead of volume. Romney proposes reducing the amount of medical insurance paid out to future retirees and rely instead on the private market to level out costs. However, as many have pointed out, both “solutions” do anything but cater to seniors.
A campaign launched by the Institute of Medicine called “Choosing Wisely,” is hoping to bring voters in on the discussion. The group – comprised of nine medical societies – hopes to challenge the idea that more care is better and to shine light on the real value Americans are getting for their health care dollars, which apparently isn’t much.
The bottom line is, the American people not only need to know where their tax dollars are going, but also start demanding more accountability on behalf of our government and health care providers. At this point in our nation’s economic downswing, we can’t afford anything less.
photo: AFP/Getty Images
September 7th, 2012