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Think prescription drugs cost a lot? Surgery costs more

surgeryIn health care circles, Dr. Atul Gawande is a rock star. He’s a surgeon and staff writer for the New Yorker. He was recently named to lead the new health care enterprise being formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to find ways to lower employee health care costs.

So, when Gawande talks, people tend to listen. During a June appearance before an annual meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, Gawande went after surgery. That, he said, is the “single biggest health care cost.”

“We are screaming right now about pharmaceutical costs…and that is just 10 percent of the total U.S. health care spending,” Gawande told the audience, according to Reuters.

The answer? Gawande recommends that hospitals continue to standardize procedures, resulting in lower costs and better results for patients.

“We need to act through data tracking…to see when treatments are benefiting and when they are not,” he said.

Have you or a loved one recently had a high-priced surgery? Or, have you decided against surgery because of the cost? Share your stories and ideas with Voices for Affordable Health.