High Out-of-Pocket Costs Create Difficult Conversations

High Out-of-Pocket Costs Create Difficult Conversations

As patients bear more financial responsibility for their medical bills, the issue of cost and necessity are things that patients are demanding answers to. With roughly half of bills sent to collections being medical debt related, these concerns are not unwarranted, and patient’s cost sensitivity has raised concern for doctors as well. Pushing millions of people into poverty, high costs have caused more patients to either delay medical tests and treatments, or opt for cheaper, less effective procedures.

While a number of physicians welcome conversations with patients propelled by high-deductibles, some doctors warn that too much emphasis on cost can compromise their ability to effectively do their job. Although, many believe that frank discussion of cost can help patients avoid the stress and financial damage of large medical bills, opposing views state that high-cost sensitivity can be potentially harmful if patients delay or skip necessary treatment due to cost.

When taking a look at the patient's perspective, many feel it is the doctor’s duty to bring up the issue of price before any treatments, tests, or lab work occurs. Still, some doctors believe it is up to the patient themselves to decide whether they need the care regardless of cost, and doctors are only there to help inform the decision.

As a provider, where do you think the responsibility lies?

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