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Transforming America by redirecting wasted health care dollars
Date:10/30/2012

The respected national Institute of Medicine estimates that $750 billion is lost each year to wasteful or excessive health care spending. This sum includes excess administrative costs, inflated prices, unnecessary services and fraud dollars that add no value to health and well-being.

If those wasteful costs could be corralled without sacrificing health care quality, how might that money be better spent?

In a study published in the current online edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Frederick J. Zimmerman, professor and chair of the department of health policy and Management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and colleagues outline some of the myriad ways that $750 billion could benefit Americans.

"If cut from current health care expenditures, these funds could provide businesses and households with a huge windfall, with enough money left over to fund deficit reduction on the order of the most ambitious plans in Washington," Zimmerman said. "The money could also cover needed investments in transportation infrastructure, early childhood education, human capital programs, rural development, job retraining programs and much more. And it could transform America with little to no reduction in the quality of, or access to, health care actually provided."

Zimmerman noted that while different observers would likely have different priorities regarding the alternative uses toward which the wasted expenditures could be directed, all would agree that the alternatives proposed in this study have inherent social value.

"When the fastest-growing part of the economy is also the least efficient, the economy as a whole loses its ability over time to support our current living standards," said Jonathan Fielding, a UCLA professor of health policy and management and director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, who is a co-author of the study. "The U.S. has become irrationa
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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