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Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Except these statistics aren't lies, more of a messy, grim reality.  Forbes' Dan Munro on healthcare's continuing crisis:

"These are the (statistics) that struck (Munro) as among the more compelling:

1.  Medicare spends about $50B on the last 2 months of a patient’s life.

2.  Medicare/Medicaid fraud is estimated at $70B per year .

3.  21% of Americans smoke – The American Cancer Society claims that “tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death (estimated at 443,000/yr) in the U.S. 45M smoke cigarettes; 13.2M smoke cigars; 2.2M smoke pipes.

4.  Obesity Epidemic – in 1985 there was no state that had an obesity rate greater than 10%. By 2010 there was no state with an obesity rate lower than 20% and 36 states have an obesity rate higher than 25%. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. (estimated at 112,000/yr).

5.  23-30% of prescriptions never get picked up at the pharmacy – Surescripts study on 40M prescriptions from 2008 to 2010 .

6.  There are more MRI machines in Pittsburgh than Canada.

7.  80% of healthcare bills contain errors.

8.  Insurance claim errors are estimated at about $17B per year.

9.  The Milliman Medical Index measures the total annual cost of healthcare for a typical family of 4 covered by a preferred provider plan (PPO). In 2002 it was $9,235. For 2011 it was $19,393.

10.  By 2025 the average annual cost of family healthcare insurance will equal the average annual household income.

11.  Ohio spent about $600M in 2009 on Medicaid, Foodstamps and Welfare for employees of that states 50 largest employers (including WalMart, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Krogers.)

12.  The Census Bureau reported 49.9M uninsured for 2010 (roughly 16.3% of the population and statistically unchanged from 2009.)

13.  The Census Bureau Report on Poverty indicates about 100M – basically 1-in-3 Americans – either in poverty or the zone just above it (annual income less that 50% above the official poverty line). This one’s not directly healthcare related – but affordable healthcare is most definitely a relative term as it applies to (or is mandated by) any healthcare system.

Safe to say it’s a mess – or as Tommy Lee Jones said in No Country For Old Men “if it ain’t … it’ll do ‘til the mess gets here.”

Let's be clear.  #9 and #10 are EFFECTS, dependent variables if you will.  The rest are basically CAUSES or independent variables.  Address THEM and #9 and #10 begin to improve.

Focus for a moment on #10:  " By 2025 the average annual cost of family healthcare insurance will equal the average annual household income."   That's if current trends continue, with health care inflating at, say, 7% per year (i.e. doubling roughly every 10 years) and little-to-no household income growth.   It's easy math to forecast the former overtaking the latter.

Anybody with me in saying that neither trend is sustainable?  Anybody with me in saying our poets, pundits and politicians are overly optimistic in thinking about healthcare's ability to change that far, that quickly?

The mess is on our doorstep.  It ain't pretty.  Stay tuned.

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