“Unfortunately, we have made very little progress over the last 10 years when a focus was first put on this problem and there are a lot of reasons for that,” Dr. Wu says. “Our healthcare financing is increasingly byzantine and complex, and it’s been resistant to attempts to change that. Part of the reason is that there are many who benefit from the money that is being wasted: One person’s waste is another person’s income.”
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueNovember 2019
A major improvement could be made if waste tied to administrative complexity could be cut, Dr. Wu says, noting that while administrative costs make up an estimated 15% of total costs in private insurance, with Medicare those costs are just 5%.
“This suggests at least a partial solution would be to expand Medicare or some variant of that model,” Dr. Wu says.
And now may be the right time to make some big changes, Dr. Wu says. “The elections of 2018 suggested that the American public has an increased appetite for good and affordable healthcare for all,” he adds.
- Shrank WH, Rogstad TL, Parekh N. Waste in the U.S. healthcare system: Estimated costs and potential for savings. JAMA. 2019 Oct 7. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.13978. [Epub ahead of print]
- Lum F, Lee P. Waste in the U.S. healthcare system—insights for vision health. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019 Oct 7. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.4647. [Epub ahead of print]