Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Cost of Dying (CBS 60 Minutes video segment)

Patients' Last Two Months of Life Cost Medicare $50 Billion Last Year; Is There a Better Way?

(CBS)  Every medical study ever conducted has concluded that 100 percent of all Americans will eventually die. This comes as no great surprise, but the amount of money being spent at the very end of people's lives probably will.

Last year, Medicare paid $50 billion just for doctor and hospital bills during the last two months of patients' lives - that's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education.

And it has been estimated that 20 to 30 percent of these medical expenditures may have had no meaningful impact. Most of the bills are paid for by the federal government with few or no questions asked.

You might think this would be an obvious thing for Congress and the president to address as they try to reform health care. But what used to be a bipartisan issue has become a politically explosive one - a perfect example of the costs that threaten to bankrupt the country and how hard it's going to be to rein them in.

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