More Healthcare Lies

Sullivan has posted Medical Billing and Coding’s infographic on why our healthcare cost so much. I have rarely seen such a huge a stack of healthcare lies collected in one place.

  • They claim that America’s obesity rate is not driving our healthcare costs, only accounting for $25 billion in spending. If that’s the case, someone needs to tell the CDC, which has estimated obesity to be responsible or at least 10% of our healthcare spending and projects it to eventually cause 20% of our spending. Obesity is a primary risk factor for heart disease, something we spend a lot of money on. Lipitor alone is a $7 billion expense.
  • They claim malpractice isn’t driving healthcare costs, only being responsible for 2% of spending. This ignores defensive medicine. Now I’m aware that Haav-vud has estimated defensive medicine to be a tiny expense. But their lawyer-friendly study is far far too conservative. The Kessler study estimates 10% and I would even say that’s conservative. A huge amount of our healthcare spending is for end of life care and a huge driver of that is the fear of lawsuits. Many procedures and tests that are considered “routine” would not be without lawsuit threats. Additionally, the effect of malpractice is not linear. For hospitals, it’s a small part of the budget. For practicing physicians — especially OB/Gyn’s — it can cost more than the rent on their office.
  • They then say that providers charge more because they can — true enough — because the US government is not involved in price regulation. So Americans have “less power” over healthcare costs. I’m not going to re-open the price control debate again. It’s too complicated for a group this stupid. But I will note that there are other ways for consumers — not “the people” to have power over healthcare costs.
  • They complain that admin costs are 21% of our healthcare bill — twice what other countries spend and that 85% of this is due to private insurance. This tells me that they are buying the lie — and it is a lie — that Medicare’s costs are only a tiny fraction of the private sector. Keep in mind, this is the Medicare that is currently spending 20 cents on the dollar on fraud — a problem that they perversely try to blame on the private sector.
  • They complain that 41% of healthcare costs are for outpatient procedures. But outpatient procedure usually save money. They specifically site the example that 60% of UK hernias are treated inpatient, but only 11% of US hernias are treated inpatient. What?! Treating a hernia — usually not really an optional procedure — is MUCH cheaper done as an outpatient. Outpatient procedures save money. And lots of it.
  • Finally, they say are doctors are overpaid. I’ll leave that talking point for the class.
  • Sullivan should embarrassed to have posted this on his site. It’s quite clear that the people who put this together have an agenda and have resorted to distortions of fact that would make Michael Moore blush. This isn’t adding to the debate. It’s setting it back twenty years.