Doctors perform thousands of unnecessary surgeries
EXPENSIVE AND UNSEEN
The costs of unnecessary surgeries touch consumers and taxpayers in ways most never imagine. Medicare, Medicaid and their private insurance counterparts spend billions of dollars on operations that shouldn’t be done, draining health care dollars that could go to far better use.
About 10% of all spinal fusions paid for by Medicare in 2011 were not necessary, either because there was no medical basis for them or because doctors did not follow standards of care by exploring non-surgical treatments, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from Medicare program audits. That translates to $157 million in improper payments, just for spinal surgeries in a single year.