KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Billions Spent By Medicare On Unnecessary Procedures

A new study from Harvard researchers looked at 26 tests and procedures, using evidence-based medicine guidelines.

Reuters:  Medicare Pays Billions Of Dollars For Wasteful Procedures -- Study
As many as 42 percent of U.S. Medicare patients were subjected to procedures providing little if any medical benefit, costing the government program up to $8.5 billion in wasteful spending, according to a study published on Monday. The research, reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, is the first large-scale analysis of what Medicare spends on procedures widely viewed as unnecessary, from advanced imaging for simple lower back pain to pre-operative chest X-rays and putting stents in patients with stable heart disease (Begley, 5/12).

Kaiser Health News: Harvard: Overused Medical Services Cost Medicare Billions
Medical overtreatment is the inverse of former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: while easy to define in concept, it can be hard to know it when you see it. A treatment that is appropriate for one patient can also be unnecessary or even counterproductive for another (Rau, 5/12).

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