We have argued here repeatedly that the US healthcare system is not about healthcare all. No one anywhere here gets paid for keeping you healthy. The system is designed from top to bottom to produce as many prescriptions, tests and procedures as possible. And the prices for these are completely in the hands of the providers. There is no market that sets prices based on supply and demand. And there is no way to create such a market. Healhtcare is not a commodity like tomatoes or petroleum. There are enormous and insurmountable knowledge gaps between the providers and the victims.
A recent NPR story by Marshall Allan illustrates the findings of studies in Washington state of the scale of the ripoff. See: Unnecessary Medical Care: More Common Than You Might Imagine. Based on reviewing 1.3 million insurance claims in Washington the study found:
In a single year:
More than 600,000 patients underwent a treatment they didn’t need, treatments that collectively cost an estimated $282 million.
More than a third of the money spent on the 47 tests or services went to unnecessary care.
3 in 4 annual cervical cancer screenings were performed on women who had adequate prior screenings – at a cost of $19 million.
About 85 percent of the lab tests to prep healthy patients for low-risk surgery were unnecessary — squandering about $86 million.
Needless annual heart tests on low-risk patients consumed $40 million.
These findings fit right into the characterization of the healthcare business rules noted by Elisabeth Rosenthal in An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. 2017.