Last updated: August 25. 2013 4:25AM - 18 Views

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In a recent column published on www.limaohio.com, Mark Weisbrot chastised private insurers as “the biggest source of waste” in the U.S. health-care system (“Health-care law is a hopeful step forward,” Jan. 3). The facts suggest otherwise.In 2010, fraudulent or otherwise improper Medicare payments totaled $48 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office. That's quadruple the combined profits of the 10 largest health insurance companies — and represents nearly 10 percent of what Medicare spent that year.At the same time, Medicare and Medicaid underpay legitimate health-care providers by as much as 20 percent. To compensate, hospitals and doctors charge patients with private insurance more. In fact, the average family pays an extra $1,500 in premiums annually, thanks to such federally induced cost shifting.

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