High Cost Doesn't Equal Better Care

Staff Writer | Jacksonville.com | May 18, 2012

Almost 100,00 Americans die and about 1 million are injured each year as result of medical failures, reported the Institute of Medicine in 2000. In fact, 30 percent to 40 percent of American health care is wasted due to overuse, underuse, misuse and other factors. And in too many cases, the costs for the new procedures aren't justified. However, the system isn't designed to control costs. Third parties are paying for the procedures.

Employees are seeing the impact in their paychecks in the form of skyrocketing health care premiums. But Americans are paying more attention to rising health care costs. Shannon Brownlee wrote about a major cause in her book, "Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer." While her book was published about five years ago, she is now seeing more acceptance of her thesis.

Recently, a number of American medical groups announced 45 common treatments that patients and doctors should question. One reason for the list is simply practical. We won't need to ration care if we avoid waste. Examples are repeated colonoscopies when there is no medical indication for them, stress tests for healthy people or antibiotics for sinus infections that are not caused by bacteria. As the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care reports, rapidly rising health care costs pose a "serious threat" to the future of public and private health insurance.