Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: Billing, Administrative Costs Waste Billions of Dollars

The U.S. healthcare system spends roughly $360 billion per year on billing and administrative costs, and according to Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, in a New York Times op-ed, the country needs to stop wasting that money and fully transition to an electronic platform.

Dr. Emanuel, brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health, said roughly half of the total administrative costs come from commercial payors and governmental insurance programs, while the other half goes toward hospitals and physicians that must perform the "myriad…administrative functions associated with healthcare," according to the article.

Some estimate $32 billion to $180 billion per year could be saved from trimming down administrative costs, and Dr. Emanuel said there are two main ways to achieve savings. The first is the continued push toward electronic health records, and the second is the billing process. Dr. Emanuel said a unified electronic billing system where a patient "could simply swipe an ATM-like card for automatic verification of eligibility, claims processing and payment" could both eliminate expensive manual data entry and reduce identification and billing mistakes.

Related Articles on Healthcare Costs:

Study: Health Information Exchange in Emergency Departments Saved Nearly $2M Annually

Vermont's Universal Healthcare Could Cost $9.5B a Year by 2020

Study: $6.8B Spent on Unnecessary Medical Tests, Scans in 2009

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