Patients don't want to consider costs

Feb. 22, 2013 at 9:00 PM
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BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. patients would rather not discuss costs with their doctor when choosing among medical treatment options, researchers say.

Roseanna Sommers, a first-year student at Yale Law School; Susan Dorr Goold, a professor at the University of Michigan; Elizabeth A. McGlynn, director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research; Steven D. Pearson, president of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Marion Danis of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center said having patients weigh costs when making medical decisions has been proposed to reduce healthcare spending.

"We convened 22 focus groups of people with health insurance to examine their willingness to discuss healthcare costs with clinicians and consider costs when deciding among nearly comparable clinical options," the researchers said in the study.

"We identified the following four barriers to patients' taking cost into account: a preference for what they perceive as the best care, regardless of expense; inexperience with making trade-offs between health and money; a lack of interest in costs borne by insurers and society as a whole; and non-cooperative behavior characteristic of a 'commons dilemma,' in which people act in their own self-interest although they recognize that by doing so, they are depleting limited resources."

Surmounting these barriers would require new research in patient education, comprehensive efforts to shift public attitudes about healthcare costs and training to prepare clinicians to discuss costs with their patients, the researcher concluded.

The study was published in the journal Health Affairs.

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