Join AARP today. Get access to discounts, programs, services and information you need to benefit every area of your life.
by Keith Lind, Public Policy Institute, March 26, 2018
How Big is the Problem of Low-Value Health Care Service Use? (PDF)
Costs and Trends in Utilization of Low-value Services Among Older Adults With Commercial Insurance or Medicare Advantage
The Slippery Slope of Declining Low-Value Medical Services
Translating Shades of Grey: How can we accelerate value in health care?
This Spotlight describes the use of low-value health care services by private plan enrollees age 50+.
A number of studies have reported widespread use of low-value health care services that amount to billions of wasted dollars. Use of these services is considered clinically inappropriate in most cases, such as diagnostic imaging for a simple headache. In an effort to understand the scope of the problem, we studied the use of 16 low-value services, including cancer screening tests, diagnostic imaging, and invasive procedures from 2009 to 2014.
This PPI Spotlight by Keith Lind summarizes our findings, which first appeared in the journal Medical Care, and provides a rough estimate for the extent of spending associated with these 16 low-value services. Related blogs by Elizabeth Carter of AARP’s Public Policy Institute, The Slippery Slope of Low-Value Medical Services, and Margot Walthall and Darshak Sanghavi of OptumLabs®, Translating Shades of Grey: How can we accelerate value in health care? Provide complementary perspectives on the topic of low-value services
Among the Spotlight highlights: In 2014, the use of the 16 low-value health care services we looked at accounted for roughly 1.5% (about $5.4 billion) of health care spending for enrollees age 50+ in commercial insurance plans and enrollees age 65+ in Medicare Advantage plans. We compared our findings with results from other studies that have reached similar conclusions. Unfortunately, the solution to reducing low-value care is hardly straightforward because services that are deemed low value in many cases may actually be of high value in some cases, depending on the clinical circumstances.
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Find the public policy institute content you are looking for by entering in search terms below.
Sign up for alerts on the latest research, events and videos on policy issues.
A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers
By 2030, one out of every five people in the United State will be 65-plus. Will your community be ready?
How livable is your community?
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at