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Unnecessary Medical Expenses Essay

2062 words - 9 pages

The United States uses nearly $9,000 per capita on healthcare expenditures, which is significantly more than all other countries. Why do we spend so much more when our quality doesn’t even compete? Several medical examinations and procedures performed on patients are completely unnecessary. For example, some women have a specific date to which they would like to give birth, so they will request an early elective delivery. An early elective delivery is labor that is induced between 37 and 39 weeks of pregnancy, and is also induced without any legitimate medical need. These types of deliveries cause a lot of infants to be admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These incidents could be completely avoided if physicians would keep woman from requesting premature labor.
Literature Review
In the 1970’s, John Wennberg noticed that there was a major variation in the cost of medical procedures around the different regions of the United States. In 2008, end-of-life care per Medicare beneficiary in the state of New Jersey was $59,379 and $32,523 per beneficiary in North Dakota (Wennberg, 2008). Unfortunately, no relation of higher spending and quality of care was evident. So to explain this phenomenon, one must further explore medical procedures that may not be necessary. Several groups of people are affected by this issue in the U.S, but the main group is the elderly mostly because of their higher need for medical attention and the inevitable end-of-life care. Since the expenditures vary state by state, one good way to improve the overall average is to find the best cost and quality based on mortality of all hospitals. Consequently, if all hospitals would imitate the strategies of the hospital with the highest cost/quality to mortality ratio, then it could save thousands of lives and millions of dollars (Yasaitis, 2009).
The concern for the amount we spend on healthcare is rapidly rising in our country, and we simply just want to get high quality in return for what we spend. This is definitely not the case comparing our quality to other countries. A country as powerful as the United States is very lacking when it comes to health care systems. This factor also implies that our spending is not being utilized properly. Since higher spending doesn’t correlate with higher quality, we must find where the unnecessary spending is taking place. One interesting study in the U.S reported that lower healthcare spending regions had outcomes that were equal or greater than regions with higher spending (Baiker and Chandra, 2004). Patients also reported a higher quality of care in lower spending regions compared to their counterparts.
So why are lower spending regions obtaining better results? One major indicator is the amount of discretionary medical services used by each region. Higher spending regions have higher rates of re-admission, more frequent referrals to specialists, more frequent doctor visits, and greater use of diagnostic...

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