Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Health Carelessness

One year ago I buried my Dad. I spent 5 years taking him to doctors and lessening excess costs and procedures.  Years ago, the Post referred to him as “the unobtrusive shaper of law.” For over 37 years he wrote major healthcare legislation as a Congressional Research Service branch head and a staff member on the House Ways and Means Committee helping with all forms of healthcare legislation.  Today our system is careless.

America's medical care system is complex.  U.S. total healthcare expenditure is $2.7 trillion or 18 percent of GDP.  It is forecast to reach 34 percent of GDP by 2040.  In 2010 Americans spent $1.3 trillion on healthcare. Multiple chronic illness cases that are just one percent of healthcare expenditure consume 21 percent of this total amount.  The last tier of 50 percent of patients accounted for 2.8 percent of spending last year.  Contrary to popular opinion only 10 percent of healthcare dollars are spent in the last year of life.  While there is increased spending in the last few months approaching death, it is not the massive percentage of medical care dollars that is widely believed.

Healthcare spending is forecast to account for nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or one-fifth of the U.S. economy, by 2021.  It’s been estimated that waste may account for between one-third and one-half of all U.S. healthcare. It could be eliminated without harming consumers or reducing the quality of care.

The largest area of waste is ‘defensive medicine’, including redundant, inappropriate or unnecessary tests and procedures. Other factors that contribute to this excessive spending include non-adherence to medical advice and prescriptions alcohol abuse, etc.

Another reasons cost  are spiraling is because we do not monitor or intervene in medical pricing.  There is a need to best account for who is responsible for controlling healthcare costs including lawyers, doctors, insurers, hospitals, drug makers, and patients. In 2011 scientists estimated that roughly 75,000 deaths might have been averted in 2005 if every state had delivered care at the quality level of the best performing state.

The Congressional Budget Office has said, “total spending on healthcare would eventually account for all of the country’s economic output.”  This may be a primary reason for long-term deficits.  

It is forecasted the disability portion of the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2022. The typical recipients now is a middle-aged worker whose main ailment is either a muscular skeletal or psychological.

Our future is in jeopardy due to our careless medical system. Also we could save over 75,000 lives.

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