It's no surprise that money is routinely wasted on unneeded medical care, but for the first time, officials have estimated just how many health care dollars may be squandered in Massachusetts. It could be as much as $27 billion a year.
Between 21 and 39 percent of medical expenditures in the state may be wasteful, according to the state's newly formed Health Policy Commission. That added up to $14.7 billion to $26.9 billion in 2012. One large chunk of that went toward readmitting hospital patients who could have stayed home if their discharge planning had been better, such as having proper instructions for taking medication.
The commission, which released the report on health care cost trends Wednesday, said hospital readmissions may account for $700 million in unnecessary spending annually. It also blamed emergency room visits that could have been prevented with better primary care and treatment for hospital-acquired infections. Other factors included inappropriate imaging tests for low back pain, and unnecessarily inducing labor early in women, which can increase health problems for infants.