Essay: When care is worth it, even if end is death

The New York Times, December 13, 2011
You've probably heard that we spend a lot of money on patients who die. It's true: about one-tenth of the money spent on direct care goes to people who die each year. Among Medicare patients, the figure is much higher, about one-quarter. You may be shocked by those statistics. What health care system would squander so many dollars on patients who don't benefit? Or maybe you're saddened. No humane system would subject patients to painful interventions and procedures that serve no purpose. The idea that we waste money on terminal patients has caught on; the simplicity of the conceit makes it appealing to policy makers.

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