Unwarranted Medical Procedures Burden Taxpayers and Necessitate Bailouts

Thursday, February 12, 2009 by: Jo Hartley
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(NaturalNews) The national debt we are incurring is a legacy that will be handed down to future generations. As we begin to see programs for the disadvantaged also being affected by the economic plight of the world, it becomes clear that improving the economy is also necessary for humanitarian reasons. Medical profits have, to this point, not been adversely affected by the suffering economy. There are recent signs, however, that the medical industry may be the next sector to ask for a rescue effort from Washington.

Recent evidence is showing that the large part of tax revenue that funds Medicare and Medicaid is a very important source of income for the medical industry. Furthermore, a significant part of these expenditures is for unnecessary (and in many cases even harmful) surgeries. There have been numerous studies that have shown that a high number of surgeries performed are not medically warranted. In many cases these surgeries even cause more harm than good.

The two most commonly performed and unwarranted surgeries in the US are hysterectomies and cesarean sections.

Spontaneous deliveries are childbirth deliveries that do not involve surgery. These spontaneous deliveries are considered time consuming for physicians and hospitals. Of course, there are times when cesarean sections are medically warranted to save the life of either the mother or the baby or both. Unfortunately, there are estimates that as many as 99% of the cesarean sections performed in the US are medically unwarranted. The Division of Vital Statistics states that for the year 2006 out of 4.3 million births, 31.1 % were cesarean sections.

There are different factors for cesarean sections that affect how expensive the entire procedure is. Depending on these factors, every cesarean section costs Americans between $2,000 and $200,000 over and above the base line cost of a hospital birth. Cesarean section expenses that are passed on to US citizens are estimated at over $3 billion every year.

The incidences of unnecessary hysterectomies are equally disturbing. It is estimated that the percentage of hysterectomies performed that are medically unwarranted is between 24 and 88%. The percentage of hysterectomies that might be avoided with conservative treatment is estimated to be approximately 98%.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that approximately 33 % of American women undergo hysterectomies by their sixtieth birthdays. By age 65 approximately 50% of all US woman will have had a hysterectomy. The US has four times the hysterectomy rate than any other industrialized nation.

An article published in the September 2007 issue of Health Insurance Underwriter's Magazine stated that over $17 billion is spent every year on physician and hospital charges for hysterectomies. It has come to light that many of the irreversible consequences of undergoing a hysterectomy are not disclosed to women prior to having this surgery. When women are fully educated about everything involved in a hysterectomy, approximately 98 % decide not to undergo the surgery.

The largest hospital chain in the US is the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). According to their 2008 Securities and Exchange Commission information, approximately 49% of their income and 59% of their admissions were Medicare and Medicaid patients. Additionally, the HCA has been fined $1.7 billion and has pled guilty to 14 felony counts for Medicare fraud.

Of note is that on December 2, 2007, The Associated Press reported that: "retirement and health benefit programs now make up the largest component of federal spending. Defense is next. And moving up fast in third place is interest on the national debt."

Americans should not be in the position of having to guard against these unwarranted surgical procedures at any time. However, especially in these tumultuous economic times, spending a precious $17 billion a year of tax payers' money on unnecessary medical expenses should not be occurring.


About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything! - Current Events - Simply Abundant Living

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