Low-value health care costs $345B each year and provides little benefit

Katie Koziara
Katie Koziara February 26, 2020

Low-value health care costs $345B each year and provides little benefit.

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Low-value health care is treatment that offers little to no clinical benefit to patients yet is a major drain of resources often at the detriment to patients. Low-value health care is one of the biggest drivers of health care spending, costing an estimated $345 billion each year. In 2015, spending on these types of items and services included:

  • $928 million on population-based Vitamin D screening
  • $483 million on antibiotics for sinusitis

These costly items and services often have no impact on a patient’s wellbeing and could directly contribute to health care system inefficiencies, medical errors and wasteful spending. That’s why last month, the Research Consortium for Health Care Value Assessment released a web-based tool allowing users to visually track the prevalence and spending associated with the administration of low-value services.

Designed with state-level organizations in mind, this low-value care visualizer distills information on how many patients experienced low-value care and how much money was spent on those treatments. For example, the tool analyzed commercial-based claims data from Virginia and found that 41% of members received at least one low-value care service and that 38% of overall spending, or approximately $706 million, was attributed to low-value care.

Top 5 Costliest Lo-Value Care Items VA Ad_2

Tools like these can help us move toward a more value-driven health care system that works better for patients. Learn more and use the tool here.

Topics: The Value Collaborative