Reducing Use of Low-Value Medical Care
Task Force on Low-Value Care
Problem of Overspending and Underperforming in the United States
The US spends more on health care per capita than any other country but does not achieve outcomes commensurate with that spending.
A substantial share of this spending is devoted to services that buy no additional health, and in some instances, expose patients to serious harm. Experts estimate that between $158 and $226 billion is spent on low-value care every year (2011 dollars). Private payers bear the cost of between $90 and $140 billion of this amount. And there is reason to believe even the upper estimates of low-value care are too conservative.
Beyond the heavy price that public and private purchasers pay, low-value services harm patients. Low-value care services:
- Expose patients to iatrogenic harm. Harm may be directly related to the overused procedure itself, or follow from downstream services as incidental findings are worked-up.
- Impose high out-of-pocket costs. In an era of high-deductible plans, analyses have found that between 17 percent and 33 percent of spending on low-value care is paid by patients.
- Lead to lost time, lost productivity, and “botheredness.”
The Choosing Wisely campaign alone has identified about 500 commonly overused services across the spectrum of medical care. The Task Force has since identified its own “Top Five” low-value care services, as a call to action for purchasers and payers to reduce harm and overspending related to care that is not clinically indicated.
Who We Are
- Expanding Coverage for Essential Care During COVID-19 (AJMC)
- Will 2020 Be the Year That Medicine Was Saved? (NY Times)
- A silver lining to COVID-19: Fewer low-value elective procedures (Lown Institute)
- Concept Paper No. 6: The Time to Reduce Low-Value Care is Now (Research Consortium for Health Care Value Assessment)
- Evaluation of an Intervention to Reduce Low-Value Preoperative Care for Patients Undergoing Cataract Surgery at a Safety-Net Health System (JAMA)
- Measuring 21 low-value hospital procedures: claims analysis of Australian private health insurance data (2010-2014)
- Interventions Aimed at Reducing Low-Value Health Services: A Systematic Review
- Levers to Reduce Use of Unnecessary Services: Creating Needed Headroom to Enhance Spending on Evidence-Based Care (American Journal of Managed Care)
- Low-Cost, High-Volume Health Services Contribute the Most to Unnecessary Health Spending
- Reducing Low-Value Care (Health Affairs Blog Post)
- V-BID Center Infographic on Low-Value Care
- Tackling Low-Value Care: A New “Top Five” for Purchaser Action