We all know the health care system is rife with wasteful spending. But when researchers from a prestigious institution like the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine estimate that waste at 25 percent of all spending, alarm bells go off. And it got me to wondering what the magnitude of employer health care spending might be.

The University of Pittsburgh research, published in JAMA in October, was referenced in a HealthLeaders article that cited more research pinning total 2019 U.S. health care spending at $3.82 trillion. OK, 25 percent of that gives us $955 billion.

Let’s take the next step: The Integrated Benefits Institute, a health research group that works with U.S. employers, said in its report that U.S. employers spent $880 billion on health care benefits for their workers and dependents last year. A quarter of that equals $220 billion. Lots of nations don’t have GNPs of $220 billion.

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