Health Care Costs
Physicians, especially specialists, do not normally consider patients' out-of-pocket costs when selecting care settings and choosing diagnostic tests, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found.
The authors found that:
- When prescribing drugs, 78% of physicians routinely considered patients' out-of-pocket costs;
- When selecting inpatient or outpatient care settings, 51.2% of physicians considered out-of-pocket costs; and
- When selecting diagnostic tests, 40.2% of physicians considered out-of-pocket costs.
The researchers also found that primary care physicians were more likely than specialists to consider out-of-pocket costs.
The study concluded that cost-sharing strategies aimed at patients likely will have limited effects on reducing spending because physicians disregard patients' out-of-pocket costs when considering more expensive medical services (Pham et al., Archives of Internal Medicine, 4/9). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.