Monday, June 24, 2013

A microcosm on how health care dollars are wasted in the U.S

From Steven Saltzberg writing at Forbes:

The CNN Health article, with “content provided by the faculty of the Harvard Medical School,” demonstrates in a microcosm how health care dollars are wasted in the U.S.  First it recommends the most effective and least expensive treatments: weight loss and exercise.  Both of these involve lifestyle changes that are difficult for many people.  The article then suggests alternative treatments for knee pain that include:
    1. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements – ineffective but cheap.
    2. Knee injections of hyalonuric acid – ineffective and very expensive.
    3. Acupuncture – ineffective, wildly implausible, and sort of cheap.

Despite the evidence against them, the doctor quoted throughout the article recommends trying all three, especially if (as is common) the patient doesn’t have to pay the bills.

Science only supports three treatments for knee pain, as physician Harriet Hall summarized in her recent blog post: exercise, weight loss, and NSAIDs.  The “alternatives” described by CNN, no matter how appealing they sound, are a waste of time and money.