Sunday, November 22, 2009

CBS "60 Minutes" reports on cost of end-of-life Medicare


Steve Kroft reports. The segment, "The Cost of Dying," (14:06) says that there is something worse than dying, since 100% of us will: it is “dying badly”. Medicare spends $50 billion a year on the last two months of life, more than on the budget for DHS.

In Medicare, we turn the laws of supply and demand upside down. Hospitals have an incentive to admit more patients to pay off bonds. Perverse incentives in our system “are magnified at end of life.”

By law, Medicare cannot reject any treatment based on cost. However, some say that rules should be drawn, based on age and certain medical condition, which might seem like “rationing” but it could be better than “rationing badly.”

Many people are not familiar with end-of-life options, including hospice, living wills, and the like.

European countries with more socialized systems ration what is spent publicly on end-of-life care.

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