Ezekiel J. Emanuel wrote an article in the New York Times Sunday, November 13 2011 he called “Billions Wasted on Billing. His article certainly identified with me. Over the past five months with my knee problem I have gone to countless doctors and labs plus been admitted to the hospital three times since June of this year. Like Emanuel I found that every time I went in for an appointment or treatment I had to PAPERWORKfill out a form requiring my name, address, as well as such things as insurance information, emergency contact person, previous surgical history and current medical problems medications and allergies. Likewise, as Emanuel writes, I would then would receive the bills as well as statement of charges that said they weren't bills, from all these sources like the hospital, the surgeon, a primary care doctor, the insurance company and the labs.

Emanuel points out:

“Imagine that process repeated billions of times daily and you have one of the biggest money wasters in our healthcare system. Administration accounts for roughly 14% of what the United States spends on health care, or about 360 billion per year. About half of all administrative costs – 163 billion in 2009 – are borne by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies. The other half pays for the legions employed by doctors and hospitals to fill out billing forms, keep records, apply for credentials and perform the myriad other administrative functions associated with health care.”

He says that estimates on how much of this could be saved ranges between $32 and $100 billion per year . With 20% of savings going to the government, 50% to physicians and hospitals and 30% to insurers.

What he recommends makes sense. He says:

“Electronic health records would eliminate the need to fill out the same forms over and over and an electronic credentialing system shared by all hospitals, insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, state licensing boards and other governmental agencies like the drug enforcement administration, could reduce much of the paperwork.”

I can tell you that it makes no sense to have to fill out a form with the same information you provided the week before each time you are in need to medical care as if the system ate up the last one. It makes no sense to get multiple paper work in the mail which is not a bill. It does make sense to go electronic and reduce the paper work as well as the enormous cost of paper work in our health care system.


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