Featured research: Humana research unveils up to $935 billion of annual waste in the US health system

It has been nine years since Donald M. Berwick, M.D., MPP, and Andrew D. Hackbarth, MPhil, demonstrated that over 30% of healthcare spending is waste1. Considering the attention healthcare costs are getting in our political landscape and the unsustainable rise in healthcare costs, we wanted to reassess. Our study demonstrated that the total waste estimate was between $760 to $935 billion per year, or approximately 25% of U.S. healthcare expenditures. The study provides separate estimates for six previously recognized waste domains: failure of care delivery, failure of care coordination, overtreatment or low-value care, pricing failure, fraud and abuse and administrative complexity. Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Shrank’s team built on the previously published cost of waste estimates by estimating potential savings from scaling up interventions shown to reduce those wasteful expenditures. Potential savings ranged from $191 to $282 billion per year.

Check out these other recent publications

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  • This review collected 15 studies analyzing discordant recommendations in guidelines on indications for imaging. Findings of this review might help clinicians more thoughtfully use guidelines and appropriate use criteria. View the research here, opens new window.
  • Value-based payment arrangements with physicians appear to encourage greater use of primary care resources and less reliance on emergency department care. Results should be interpreted with caution because of several study limitations. We may learn more from longer follow-up of the same patient cohort. View the research here, PDF opens new window.
  • Scoring algorithms for the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) received a much-needed update. Prior to this research, no coding scheme had been published that included both ICD-9 and ICD-10 code tables for the 19 medical conditions that comprise the CCI score. View the research here, opens new window.

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