Two weeks ago I talked about the magnitude of America’s $750 billion of unnecessary spending (per the Institute of Medicine). I put it this way:
If Intel, Microsoft, Apple, GM, IBM, Ford, Chrysler and Dell all went out of business, it still wouldn’t add up to that much.
I found another way to comprehend it. Hold onto your hat: $750 billion is bigger than the whole Fiscal Cliff we’re so scared about.
Yes, way bigger than that cliff in the news – the fiscal cliff that’s so big Grover Norquist caved in on his tax pledge, so big it embarrassed Speaker Boehner when he STILL couldn’t rally his troops – that cliff is “only” $560 billion, according to Wikipedia as of today.
I do amateur arithmetic :-) so I was quickly able to calculate that $750 billion is 30% bigger than $560 billion – even without a calculator!:-)
$560 billion + 30% (another $168 billion) = $728 billion.
(Okay, so that’s still shy of the $750b. My point stands.)
Our august leaders Norquist, Boehner and Obama speak of the Fiscal Cliff in desperate terms – but I don’t hear anyone speaking with the same urgency about the healthcare waste pit. But it’s going to hit us all, so you and I – all of us who have a stake in the future of healthcare – ought to be thinking what we’ll do in the coming years as this industry rationalizes to a saner spending level.
The changes will be substantial. As I said in the earlier post, we must detect and protect the good work of the best providers. And above all as fights unfold over the shrinking ocean of money, we must ensure that families who need care are indeed taken care of.
(While we’re at it, recall this 2009 post: I’m sick of hearing Washington talk about savings “over ten years” … how are we supposed to make sensible judgements if a $5 billion saving (a drop in this bucket) is inflated to “$50 billion over ten years”?)