Health insurance non-benefit expenditures unnecessarily excessive

One billion non-Medicare billings are processed annually

The U.S. remains on track to spend twice as much for health care as for food, yet millions are without insurance or uninsured.

“Health insurance premiums also continue to rise – on average another 9 percent in 2011,” says Merton Bernstein, JD, leading health insurance expert and the Walter D. Coles Professor of Law Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis.


“Medical care costs can change direction if policy makers stop whistling past a significant contributor – non-benefit costs.”

Bernstein details the numerous stages of the process for billing medical care services and the processing of these bills by insurers in his current Health Affairs piece, “Pay Attention to Health Insurance Non-Benefit Costs.”

He estimates, using Best’s Insurance data, that about one billion non-Medicare billings are processed yearly.

“Even with modest non-benefit costs for each step in the billing and payment process, the resulting national health care bill is enormous,” Bernstein says.