By: Kennedy Shelley
One of the downsides of ObamaCare and increased control of medical care by government is the wasted spending on unnecessary tests and procedures.
We spend more on healthcare in the United States than any other country on the planet per person, yet we are not getting much bang for our buck.
By one measure, we nearly twice as much as any other country yet rank 11 of 11 in terms of our overall health.
What in the world is going wrong?
Well, we spend nearly three billion dollars a year on unnecessary (elective) stenting of heart patients with questionable value.
If you have stable heart disease a stint won’t prolong your life, and makes it impossible to do future bypass procedures, yet we waste billions each year. It doesn’t prevent heart attacks, it doesn’t prolong your life, yet 88% of patients think that’s what they are doing.
And you may not get an unbiased opinion from your cardiologist. 43% of them admit they would recommend and do a stint even though they know that it won’t do their patient any good whatsoever.
If patients knew that the procedure would provide no benefit, we would save nearly a billion dollars a year.
Imagine, a thirty second conversation could cut medical costs that significantly, while still maintaining patient choice, no government regulation and no bureaucrats from the insurance industry involved.
We have biased funding of research based on profit and not health. No requirements that financial conflicts of interest be disclosed by researchers and wholly inadequate training of doctors on how to comprehend health statistics.
We now know that 1/3 of all medical spending is done with no benefit to you as a patient.
We have a healthcare system that costs us 4.2 TRILLION dollars, and 33% is wasted on things that do us no good at all.
Why does this happen?
Many times, it’s because doctors as well as patients can’t understand statistics.
For instance, in 1995 British Committee on the Safety of Medicines reported that women on birth control pills doubled their chance of heart attacks.
What was the reality? Women in that age range had a 1 in 7,000 risk of a heart attack. The use of oral contraceptives increased that risk to 2 in 7,000.
Does that concern you? Yet what was the result? Over 13,000 additional abortions the year after this story hit the media.
Doctors often don’t understand health statistics either. A survey of gynecologists showed that they thought mammograms meant that it was a 25% risk reduction in breast cancer. So, they believed that 1,000 people screened meant that 250 would be saved from breast cancer.
But that’s not what the statistics meant at all. The best evidence is that if you screen 2,000 women, one life may be saved by early detection.
But is there any harm? Well 10 of the 2,000 women who are screened will suffer from overtreatment of a non-existing condition, most of which results in surgery.
And again, all this screening with not much benefit also costs billions.
And this is on top of the costs associated with dealing with government regulation, health insurance companies and defensive medicine designed to protect doctors against lawsuits.
Yet we are bombarded with bad information. Patients are told, “if you quit taking your statin drug for one day you will die.” What is the real danger? 1 in 150,000.
In short, medical statistical illiteracy from doctors and patients is costing us hundreds of billions, not making us healthier and may be hurting our health.