Poll: One of Four Healthcare Dollars Spent on Unnecessary Medical Care

WASHINGTON (February 22, 2010) - One in four dollars spent on health care in America now pays for unnecessary tests and treatments that physicians order to keep from being sued, according to a new Gallup poll of the nation's doctors released today by Jackson Healthcare and the Center for Health Transformation.

The poll, conducted by the Gallup organization for Jackson Healthcare, showed that of physicians surveyed nationwide, 73 percent said they practiced some form of "defensive medicine" in the past 12 months to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits.

That means patients are paying more so doctors don't get sued.

"Healthcare would be cheaper for every American if we could slash the cost of defensive medicine," said Newt Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation. "Think of how often each of us gets sent for extra lab work or tests that seem so unnecessary.

"Meaningful health reform must address these unnecessary costs," Gingrich said.

Gallup conducted the six-week, nationwide survey across all specialties of physicians. Those doctors reported that 26 percent of overall healthcare costs can be attributed to the practice of defensive medicine.

According to just-released data by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, healthcare in America now costs $2.5 trillion annually.

"Doctors order unnecessary medical care because they are in fear that one mistake could wipe out everything they've ever worked for," said Richard Jackson, chairman and CEO of Jackson Healthcare, an Atlanta-based healthcare management company.

CHT has suggested addressing civil justice reform, or discouraging frivolous lawsuits, through several means including health courts that only consider medical malpractice cases.

Based on Gallup's survey, Jackson Healthcare officials estimate that $650 billion of the $2.5 trillion spent on healthcare annually is spent on unnecessary tests and treatments.

"That kind of money could certainly help pay for the healthcare of many uninsured Americans," Jackson added. "If we eliminate defensive medicine, we can make healthcare more affordable for everyone." 

For more information contact Susan L. Meyers at 404-518-2271 at the Center for Health Transformation or Bob Schlotman at 770-643-5697 at Jackson Healthcare

Suggested Articles

The profit margins and management of Community Health Group raise questions about oversight of managed care insurers.

Financial experts are warning practices about the pitfalls of promoting medical credit cards to their patients.

A proposed rule issued by HHS on Tuesday would expand short-term coverage, a move Seema Verma said will have "virtually no impact" on ACA premiums.