Massive Waste in Healthcare!

by Steven Carney on September 13, 2012

A recent report from the IOM (Institute of Medicine) has some truly shocking estimates of waste, fraud and failures in the U.S. healthcare system!

Their new report, and articles written about it, expose the structural dysfunction and corruption of the system. Some highlights (or should I say, low-lights) are as follows:

  • Unnecessary services waste 210 billion annually
  • Excess administrative costs waste 190 billion annually
  • Overpricing of services and fraud wastes 180 billion annually
  • Inefficient delivery of care wastes 130 billion annually
  • Prevention failures waste 55 billion (a number I would put much higher as the whole system is failing at prevention! About 75% of medical costs are for lifestyle-driven, non-contagious health conditions or diseases).
  • Up to 75,000 people died in 2005 from substandard care

Add these tragic mortality and injuries from previous studies and healthcare reports:

  • About 100,000 people die from prescription drugs annually (from the FDA)
  • About 1.5 million people are injured by prescription drugs annually (hospitals, doctors, etc. For more detail, see links below)
  • The drug industry has been fined billions for illegal and unsafe practices in recent years

The IOM report rounded the waste and fraud total down to 750 billion for 2009, saying we waste 30 cents of every dollar spent. Based on my research and knowledge, that number is actually much higher, more like 75%. That’s because the majority of healthcare costs ($3 of every $4) are for lifestyle-driven diseases. Those chronic health problems and diseases are ones we mostly cause ourselves (excess weight, high blood pressure, heart disease/atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, stroke, systemic inflammation, etc.). Yes, most are tied to lifestyle, not family history or genetics!

Our system is badly broken

I’ve said we have a broken medical system many times because the evidence is unmistakable! From my perspective, we barely have a “healthcare” system at all. Rather, it’s a disease treatment one after people get sick. The system is obsessed with disease, adding new syndromes and disease names often!

Then, drugs are invented and prescribed, one’s that mask health symptoms but don’t cure the underlying cause. Also, lots of procedures are recommended that make money but don’t return people to an optimum health (artery stents often close up with atherosclerosis again without successful lifestyle intervention). At its core, the system defies common sense and reason! Its real focus is simple: money!

The system is also riddled with myths, assumptions and platitudes that are repeated daily by medical people who no longer question their own generic comments. These are especially true about people who are aging, say over 40. The medical community often thinks aging is like a disease, and that health deterioration is “normal” and “expected” with rising age. For example, they expect people to gain extra weight, to be less active, to feel less energetic, and to have more chronic illness and disability. All of those are myths.

They are all mostly due to unhealthy lifestyle choices over many years (nutrition, activity, smoking, etc.), not aging! See the “Myths” category on the right side of this site for more posts about health and disease myths.

An easy analogy

Our broken medical system works something like this: Imagine that a homeowner (the patient), has a leaky basement and they make an appointment with a contractor (the doctor). The contractor sees the leaky basement and quickly concludes it’s a waterproofing problem. His “prescription” is that the waterproofing needs to be redone.

The real cause is a leaky gutter overhead, but the doctor didn’t look at the roof or the gutters because he isn’t good at roofing! The contractor (doctor) brings in the tools to expose the foundation and adds a new coat of waterproofing. The process costs thousands. But the gutter still leaks, bringing water behind the home’s brick wall to the foundation during every storm. The basement leaks again in a few weeks because the original cause was never properly addressed!

What can you do

Drugs and procedures for most chronic, lifestyle-driven conditions (weight gain, high BP, high LDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, arthritis, inflammation, pain, etc.) are like the waterproofing and often reflect deeper metabolic problems. Yet they are treated superficially with our standard medical approach: one pill for each disease.

Drugs and procedures should be given only as a last resort, after all other lifestyle alternatives (origins/contributors) have been tried for 30-90 days. Before you take a prescription drug (I don’t take any) or agree to a procedure, I’d ask your doctor some key questions, including: 

  1. What are the 10 most common side effects of the drug or procedure risks? (Most doctors will only know a few, making you into a guinea pig to find out the rest for yourself.)
  2. When will the drug “cure” me? (Most drugs for chronic conditions don’t cure anything and you will need to take them forever. That’s your signal to look for alternatives).
  3. What alternative approaches are available? Think improved nutrition, activity/exercise, chiropractic adjustments, massage, lifestyle modifications, etc. They are more powerful than you think and all are geared to resolve problems at their origin. Sadly, most doctors have little or no training in these areas. Their view of health is narrow; they are focused more on disease and drugs. Most will offer only generic suggestions with little or no weekly support to help you make real progress!

As a health coach, I’m here to help you with healthy, low-cost, drug-free alternatives by uncovering the true origins of your problems. I take a more holistic approach (many chronic health problems are related to systemic inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, an unhealthy diet, etc.), so you can be free of chronic health problems forever!

I see the whole “you” and how your nutrition, activity, and lifestyle interact, bringing optimum health or chronic problems. Like a more thorough contractor, I check the roof and the gutters! In fact, I expect a bigger drainage problem to begin with! I look for, and know about the origins to many chronic health conditions. That’s how you get rid of them forever!

Helpful links:

© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now


sara June 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM

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winnie July 22, 2013 at 7:19 PM

You could definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. We need more passionate writers like you! You are not afraid to say what you believe.

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