Daily Rounds: $750B Health Waste; Organic Backlash; Medicare Speech-Check; Designer Vagina Costs

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Report: US health care system wastes $750B a year (Associated Press) — "The U.S. health care system squanders $750 billion a year — roughly 30 cents of every medical dollar — through unneeded care, byzantine paperwork, fraud and other waste, the influential Institute of Medicine said Thursday in a report that ties directly into the presidential campaign. President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are accusing each other of trying to slash Medicare and put seniors at risk. But the counter-intuitive finding from the report is that deep cuts are possible without rationing, and a leaner system may even produce better quality."

When it comes to buying organic, science and beliefs don't always mesh (NPR - The Salt) - "The upshot of the Stanford review, as we reported, was that the scientists found very little evidence of health benefits. As we explained, the limitation of the review is that many of the studies included were narrowly targeted and that they didn't last longer than a couple of years. Basically, more studies are needed to determine whether there are measurable health benefits from eating organically grown food. But many of you wrote in to us and to Morning Edition to let us know you weren't happy with the study or our coverage of it. What about environmental benefits? you asked. How could pesticide residues on conventionally grown food not be bad for us? What about genetically modified food? And, aren't you just shilling for the big food companies?"

A night of speeches under a magnifying glass: Medicare (The New York Times) - "Mr. Biden criticized the Romney campaign on Medicare, saying, “What they didn’t tell you is what they’re proposing would cause Medicare to go bankrupt by 2016.” But the actions he described would not end Medicare in four years. At issue is the Medicare trust fund, which is fed by payroll taxes, and what would happen to it if President Obama’s health care law were to be repealed, as the Republicans have vowed to do...What would happen then? The most recent report states: “If assets were exhausted, Medicare could pay health plans and providers only to the extent allowed by ongoing tax revenues — and these revenues would be inadequate to fully cover costs. Beneficiary access to health care services would rapidly be curtailed.” But it adds that, in practice, Congress has never allowed the trust fund to become depleted."

Cosmetic genital surgery: The physical and monetary cost of 'designer vaginas' (Our Bodies, Ourselves blog) - "In an examination of the “tightness” of her vagina, the doctor offered a vague assessment, noting she was “not real loose, but there’s room for tightening,” leading Beliet to ask, “Could you get it down so just two fingers fit comfortably?” Sure it’s possible, for $5,900 — or $9,900 for the dual vaginoplasty and labiaplasty surgery, called “vaginal rejuvenation.” According to Berliet, a female employee told her (OK, prepare to shudder): “This is a life changing surgery. You’re saying boyfriend now? After this he’s going to marry you.” Ack."

This program aired on September 7, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.