Cutting Costs One MRI at a Time

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Still fairly new at his job, Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, is in a race to cut healthcare costs. And he's doing it by example. "I'm a runner, and I hurt my knee in the Marine Corps Marathon last year," he says. X-rays found nothing, so his doctor suggested an insurance-covered MRI. "I wasn't paying for it. I didn't really care," says Orszag, "but my time was tight." So he put the doctor on the spot. "I said, 'Well, what's the probability that this will change the diagnosis?' And he said, 'Really small.' And I said, 'What's really small?' and he said, 'Well, probably, if I had to guess, honestly, under 1 percent.' " Orszag's reaction: "Well, we aren't doing an MRI." In time, his knee healed.