Cutting Health Care Costs: Ending Fraud, Profiteering and the Costs of Fragmented Systems

When people hear about drug companies buying up data on which doctors are prescribing prescription drugs, as we discussed in Thursday's Dispatch, they worry about their medical privacy. But when drug companies use that data to market unneeded drugs, consumers should be even more worried about how that and other shady dealings in the medical field are driving up health costs. When New Hampshire became the first state to ban "data mining" of prescription drug records, Representative Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua) saw the bill as a chance to "curb the ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs.”?

Prescription drugs are just one area in our health care system where profiteering and sometimes outright fraud costs health care consumers and taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. The result is that the United States spends fifty percent more of our annual income on health care than the average European country (15% of GDP in the US vs. 10% of GDP in Europe) and yet health outcomes in the United States place it thirtieth in the world, behind Singapore, Chile, Costa Rica, Japan, and every Western European nation.

As this Dispatch will outline, states are increasingly taking action to curb profiteering in our health care system, rein in prescription drug costs, stop self-dealing and fraud by doctors and hospitals, and create greater accountability for health care results to drive down costs. And here's a bonus: evidence suggests that if those cost savings are put towards creating a more universal health coverage, states can leverage a more integrated health care system to create even more cost savings.