Sunday, December 19, 2010

The cost of keeping the terminally ill alive, KevinMD.com

Last year, Medicare paid $55 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients’ lives.

And it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenses may have had no meaningful impact. Most of the bills are paid for by the federal government with few or no questions asked. This statistic is from a 60 Minutes story on “The Cost of Dying” and is one reason our healthcare system is in trouble.

Modern medicine has become so good at keeping the terminally ill alive by treating the complications of underlying disease that the inevitable process of dying has become much harder and is often prolonged unnecessarily.  The way we set up the system right now, primary care physicians don’t have time to spend an hour with you, see how you respond, if they wanted to adjust your medication. So, the easiest thing for everybody up the stream is to admit you to the hospital. And once someone is admitted to the hospital they’re likely to be seen by a dozen or more specialists who will conduct all kinds of tests, whether they’re absolutely essential or not

Click on the link above for the full article

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