The health care elephant must be addressed
Share with others:
Karen Wolk Feinstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, noted to a group of experts attending a daylong meeting at the foundation's training center recently that "40 cents of every health care dollar spent is wasted on preventable complications, unnecessary treatment, errors and general inefficiencies" ("What's on the Horizon in Health Care?" Oct. 19).
According to the Institute of Medicine, the estimated total annual waste is $765 billion. The National Academy of Sciences breaks this down as follows: fraud and inadequate prevention, 17 percent; unnecessary treatment, 28 percent; unnecessary high prices, 14 percent; inefficiently delivered services due to lack of coordination among doctors, hospitals and other providers, 14 percent; and, excess administrative costs as a result of too many private insurance companies and types of insurance, 25 percent. The elephant in the room that no one wants to mention is that last 25 percent of wasted money caused by our current health insurance system. That is $191 billion per year.
Perhaps political contributions, charitable donations and advertising revenues keep us from pointing to the elephant. In contrast, Medicare, our national single-payer system of publicly financed and privately delivered health care, has administrative overhead of less than 5 percent. Pennsylvania has its own single-payer solution, the Family and Business Health Security Act, SB 400, HB 2551. When we adopt this, presto, the elephant vanishes.
First Published November 12, 2012 12:00 am