The Journal of the American Medical Association (Internal Medicine) published a new study on the cost of healthcare. Researchers analyzed 485,000 Medicare patient hospital visits between 2011 and 2014. The visits involved almost 22,000 hospitalists, medical specialists who work in the hospital. The number of tests and consultations prescribed for the patients varied widely, even within the same hospital. The ones who prescribed the most for patients spent $1,055 more than the hospitalists who prescribed the least.
The research looked at two key medical outcomes: mortality and readmission within 30 days. The analysis showed there was no difference in either of these outcomes between the high spending and low spending physicians. It would be unwise to assume an easy fix to this problem. There are many complex factors including training, culture, workload, and hospital policies. However, the study does suggest high-spending doctors could do less without harming patients.
Each day, 10,000 Americans turn 65 and join Medicare. At the current $10,000 per year of healthcare cost, we are adding $100,000,000 to the annual healthcare bill every day. The debates about premiums, deductibles, insurance, who’s in and who’s out are important, but the real problem is the cost of healthcare. The study I report on here is one tiny example of the variance. Most industries are constantly looking for ways to gain consistency and eliminate variances in their costs. One industry, which represents nearly 20% of our economy, needs to catch up. Read more about American healthcare cost in Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare.