’60 Minutes’ On End-Of-Life Health Spending: ‘Is There A Better Way?’
While all Americans will eventually die, CBS's 60 Minutes reports, it may turn some heads to find out how much the government will spend when it happens -- in 2008, about $50 billion in the last two months of life. "You might think this would be an obvious thing for Congress and the president to address as they try to reform health care. But what used to be a bipartisan issue has become a politically explosive one - a perfect example of the costs that threaten to bankrupt the country and how hard it's going to be to rein them in." Dartmouth researcher Elliot Fisher explains how as many as one-fifth of Americans end up dying costly deaths in intensive care units, saying "It's the path of least resistance." The report explains, "Fisher says it is more efficient for doctors to manage patients who are seriously ill in a hospital situation, and there are other incentives that affect the cost and the care patients receive. Among them: the fact that most doctors get paid based on the number of patients that they see, and most hospitals get paid for the patients they admit" (Kroft, 11/22).
Related KHN story: Crusading Professor Challenges Dartmouth Atlas On Claims Of Wasteful Health Care (Rau, 11/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.