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Health insurance debate more focused on cost cutting

Posted On Thu, August 13, 2009

Given the increasingly bitter debate over health insurance reform in the U.S., more attention is being paid to ways to cut costs from the current system.

According to a recent report by CNNMoney.com, up to $1.2 trillion may be wasted each year in the healthcare system, which is said to be almost half of the total amount spent in that sector annually.

The report cites data from PricewaterhouseCoopers which found 16 different areas of the industry that are prone to wasteful spending. For example, the company reportedly found that $210 billion a year could be saved by scaling back the unnecessary tests that some doctors order for patients with an eye on earning more in fees or shielding themselves from potential malpractice suits.

The report also noted that inefficient paperwork is a significant drain on the system that can cost as much as $210 billion per year, while patients can also help fix the problem by using the emergency room only when necessary as opposed to treating it like their primary care physician. Another $493 billion is said to be lost from patients who engage in unhealthy activities like smoking and overeating.

It remains to be seen if and when any sweeping healthcare reforms will become law in the next year or two. Regardless, consumers who shop around and work at keeping themselves healthy can often find decent prices on the health insurance market.
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