How Comparative Effectiveness Research Can Lower Our Health Care Costs

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has concluded that “treating some heart attacks with drugs alone is less costly and as effective as using stents”:

The study found that patients who received stents stayed in hospitals 1.2 days longer than those who received medication. The average cost of care for stent patients during the first 30 days of treatment was $22,859, compared with $12,683 for those using only medication, according to the study. The cost difference narrowed after two years, but patients using medication alone saved $7,000 on average. According to the study, an estimated 100,000 heart attack patients in the U.S. do not need stents, which could translate to savings of $700 million.


We spend about $700 billion on treatments that just don’t work, and comparative effectiveness research (like this) is just one way to chip away at the waste. As Dr. Sean Tunis of the Center for Medical Technology Policy pointed out a recent AEI event, creating evidence “that allows patients and clinicians and payers to compare risks, benefits, and costs of alternative health care interventions is that that information is essential for informed decision making and informed decision making by consumers is essential for markets to work efficiently.”